Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 18 March 2021
Table of contents
Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)
Allergy shots help the body adjust to allergens, which are substances that cause allergic reactions. They aren’t a solution, but they will help the symptoms improve over time and reduce the extent to which you experience them.
If you have allergy problems for longer than three months a year and medications aren’t providing adequate relief, you might want to try allergy injections, also known as " immunotherapy."
How Often Do You Get Allergy Shots?
For some months, you’ll see the doctor once or twice a week. The shot would be delivered to your upper arm. It’ll have a small quantity of the allergen you’re allergic to, such as pollen, pet dander, mould, dust mites, or bee venom.
The dosage will be steadily increased before you reach a maintenance dose. Following that, you’ll get a shot every 2-4 weeks for the next 4-5 months. And, over the span of 3-5 years, the doctor can steadily raise the period between injections before you’re having them once a month. Your allergy symptoms may improve and possibly disappear over this period.
If your symptoms don’t improve after a year of injections, explore other medical options with your doctor.
How Should I Prepare for Allergy Shots?
For the two hours before and after your appointment, you should avoid exercising or doing anything strenuous. Since exercise increases blood flow to the tissues, allergens can spread more quickly across your body. It’s unlikely to cause a major issue, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Tell the doctor if you’re taking any other medications, herbs, or supplements. Some medications may interfere with your treatment or increase the likelihood of side effects. If you take these medications, you can need to avoid taking allergy shots.
Ask the doctor if you should keep getting allergy injections if you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
What Should I Expect Afterward?
After having an allergy injection, you should expect to spend about 30 minutes at the doctor’s office. This is to ensure that you don’t have any unpleasant side effects such as itchy eyes, shortness of breath, a runny nose, or a sore throat. Go to the hospital if you develop any symptoms once you’ve left.
It’s natural to experience redness, swelling, or inflammation around the injection site. In 4 to 8 hours, these effects should subside.
Do Allergy Shots Work for Everyone?
How many substances you’re allergic to and how serious the reactions are determined a lot. Allergy shots are generally effective against allergies to bee stings, pollen, dust mites, mould, and pet dander. There’s no indication that they work on allergies to food, medications, or latex.
When Should I Call My Doctor?
If you experience shortness of breath, a sore throat, or any other symptoms that concern you after having the shot, dial 999 and go to the closest emergency department.
Do I Have to Get a Shot?
Another option for immunotherapy is to take three under-the-tongue tablets at home. They are known as Grastek, Oralair, and Ragwitek, and they are used to treat hay fever and increase your tolerance to allergy triggers.
What Is Rush Immunotherapy?
It’s a more convenient route to a maintenance dosage, but it’s also more dangerous.
Instead of receiving injections of the allergen every few days, you get them every day for the first phase of the procedure. In the event that you have a negative response, the doctor will carefully monitor you. To help prevent a reaction, you may be given medication before receiving the allergen dose.
Who Should Not Get Allergy Shots?
People with cardiac or lung problems, or anyone on certain medications, could be at a higher risk. In order to determine if allergy shots are good for you, tell your doctor about your health and any medications you’re taking.
Referenced on 2.3.2021:
- American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
- American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
- National Institutes of Health.
- The John Hopkins Sinus Center: “Sublingual Immunotherapy."
- UpToDate: “Oral and sublingual immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis."