Allergen immunotherapy is a treatment plan to help those who suffer from allergies. Some individuals find that their quality of life is greatly affected by pollen, dander, and other foreign substances. Antihistamines significantly reduce the body's reaction during exposure, but they need to be taken regularly and prior to. That’s a lot of preplanning. With allergy shots, you and your ENT can work out a treatment plan that helps your immune system build up a resistance.
What are allergy shots?
Allergy shots are part of a treatment called immunotherapy. Most patients receive the shots regularly over a span of time to help reduce the reaction to allergens. The doctor slowly increases the dosage in each allergy shot to help with your immune response and desensitizes you to minimize the reaction. The immune system will build a tolerance and possibly diminish over time.
What You Need to Know About Allergy Shots
They Contain Allergens
Building up the immune response is possible only by introducing small amounts of the allergen into the body. The treatment progresses slowly over time to build a tolerance. The shots can change the body's response from having an adverse to reaction to sometimes none at all. In other patients, you can't suppress them completely but you can minimize the reaction. It should be noted that because there are allergens present you can have some swelling or itching where the shot was administered. Patients are required to stay at least 30 minutes for monitoring.
The Effectiveness of the Shots
Allergy shots can have a massive impact on the quality of life for those who suffer from seasonal or year-round allergies. Some time and effort are required by the patient up front. But, the payoff is sometimes life-changing. They are especially helpful for children to older adults. A study once revealed that allergy shots reduced symptoms in adults 65-75 by 55%. Their effectiveness is different person to person. For some, the results are a complete game changer and help them find that they can participate in activities that they couldn't before because of their allergies.
You can Treat More Than Seasonal Allergies
Hay fever is one of the most common reasons to get allergy shots, but there are others that you can treat. Mold and dust mites are a significant problem for much of the population. Your ENT can administer those allergens into your shot to stifle responses. There is also the possibility of treating allergies related to animal dander and occasionally stinging insects. The one allergen it can't manage is anything food related.
You Need to Budget Time
The shots are only useful if you adhere to the schedule. The "build-up" is the most time consuming and can take three to six months. Most ENT's will ask you to come in at least twice a week, and you will be required to stay at least 30 minutes afterward. After you complete the "build-up" phase, you enter a maintenance phase that reduces your visits down to once or twice a month. Sticking to the schedule will help you from having an adverse reaction.
Antihistamines Can Assist the Shot
Your shot contains a set of allergens that you are allergic to, and when you are given the shot, it's possible to have some response. An antihistamine taken before can suppress some of the body's reaction to the treatment. Some ENTs and allergists recommend patients follow this step before their visit. There is some, but limited research, that shows patients who took an antihistamine before improved the effectiveness of the shot.
They Take Time to Work
If you are looking for a quick fix, allergy shots aren’t going to be the method you want to choose. They are a long-term treatment that will take time to experience. The maintenance phase is essential and sticking with it for a few years will help your immune system desensitize itself from hay fever, dander, dust mites, and other foreign substances.
They Can Help With Skin Conditions
Symptoms for allergies are usually a stuffy, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. While allergy shots can help, there are other areas it can treat. Skin conditions like eczema are a result of inflammation flare ups. The allergy shots can help level anything that might cause the inflammatory response.
There are Under the Tongue Options
If needles really aren't for you, there are other options available. Dissolvable tablets are used under the tongue and on a daily basis. These tablets contain allergens as well, so you will need to take the first few doses at your doctor's office to monitor the reaction. But, the rest you can do at home. There are a limited number of allergens available for sublingual treatment. Ask your doctor if this option is right for you.
Ask Your Doctor if They are Right for You
Allergy shots benefit a wide age group, but they aren't for everyone. Your trusted ENT can help you decide if they are right for you, but generally speaking, if you have asthma it might not be the best choice. Also, women who are pregnant shouldn't start allergy shots, but they can continue if they become pregnant during their maintenance phase. There are also medications that can reduce effectiveness. Talk to your doctor for a complete list.
For more answers to questions about allergy shots, contact OAT today.