Allergy Shots

Allergy shots, otherwise known as allergy immunotherapy or desensitization, are a way of treating the root cause of allergies. It is effective for seasonal allergies, i.e. hay fever, year round allergies, allergic asthma and insect allergy.  Immunotherapy is not used for food allergies, eczema, drug allergies or hives. This type of therapy is usually meant for a patient that has persistent symptoms, has failed medical therapy or even for the patient that does respond to medications, but desires to take fewer medications. It is recommended for all patients that have insect allergy.

Allergy serum, the liquid that is injected into patients, is a combination of all the allergens the patient is allergic to. Allergy testing helps determine what will be included in the serum.

The serum is then diluted down and the patient is injected in the arms with increasing amounts on a weekly basis. Some patients will get one shot each time and others will get two shots (one in each arm). This depends on how many things the person is allergic. It takes about 10-12 months to reach a projected top concentration, “Top Dose”.  Some patients may not tolerate very high concentrations and their “Top Dose” may be lower than others. Allergy shots do not work right away but usually take a few months before patients notice a decrease in symptoms. 

Once a top dose is determined, the injections can be spaced out to every other week for approximately 6 months, then every 3 weeks for about 9 months, and then once a month for 1-2 years more. Along the way, the patient does meet with the physician to evaluate their individual progress. We usually recommend a minimum of 3 years of allergy immunotherapy to have a longer effect of the shots. 

Patients are asked to wait in the office a full 30 minutes after every allergy shot to monitor for an allergic reaction to an injection. Reactions can range from mild local reactions with just some swelling at the injection site to more severe symptoms with hives, trouble breathing or wheezing. Anaphylaxis, a life threatening reaction occurs rarely and would require treatment by the physician.

Prior to getting an allergy shot, patients are always interviewed by our nurse about any reactions that may have occurred from the prior injection as well as their health status on the day of the injection. Adjustments if needed will be discussed with the doctor.  Patients are not given their allergy shot if they have a fever over 100°, are coughing or wheezing or appear ill.

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Considering Allergy Shots?

For those patients that are considering allergy shots we encourage you to read our Frequently Asked Questions About Allergy Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots).

Allergy Shot Consent Form

All patients or parents of patients under the age of 18 are required to read and sign our Allergy Shot Consent Form prior to starting allergy injections. [ Download PDF ]

Insurance Coverage for Allergy Shots

Prior to starting allergy shots, we ask patients to call their health  insurance company to see if allergy injections are a covered benefit under their medical health insurance plan. Click on the link above to obtain information that will help you discuss allergy shots with your insurance company including the codes we use for billing allergy shots.
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