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Allergy Shots

If you cannot avoid your allergens and medication does not control your symptoms, your doctor may recommend you receive allergy shots or immunotherapy. The purpose of immunotherapy is to help your body get used to (become desensitized) to your allergens, in hopes that your immune system will build up tolerance, and symptoms lessen overtime.

Allergy shots may also be an effective treatment option if the medication(s) prescribed by your doctor causes worrisome side effects or interacts with other medicines that are essential for your health. Furthermore, allergy shots may be helpful if you want to lessen the long-term use of a medication used to treat your allergies.

Each shot contains a sufficient amount of the specific allergen to stimulate your immune system, but not enough to cause you to experience a full-blown allergic reaction.

They can be administered to control your allergic response to seasonal allergy symptoms, such as hay fever or allergic asthma, due to exposure to pollens released by trees, or allergies to cockroaches and dust mites, which can impact your health year-round. Allergy shots can also relieve symptoms triggered by stings from bees or wasps.

Allergy shots are usually injected into the upper arm, and administered on a “build-up” and “maintenance” phase. During the build-up phase, you’ll receive shots one to three times a week for 3 to 7 months. The allergen dose is progressively increased with each shot. You’ll continue with the maintenance phase for three to five years or longer, each month.

Although rare, allergy shots can cause reactions, including:

  • Redness, irritation or swelling at the injection site. This should go away within 4 to 8 hours.
  • Hives, nasal congestion, sneezing, wheezing, swelling and tightness in the chest. These less common reactions can be potentially serious.
  • Anaphylaxis, which causes trouble breathing and low blood pressure. This also rarely occurs, but is life-threatening.

You’re less likely to have these responses if you receive your shots weekly or monthly, regularly, without skipping a dose.

The possibility that you may experience a severe reaction to an allergy shot is scary. However, you will be observed in your doctor’s office 20 minutes after each shot. During this time most serious reactions occur. If you experience a severe allergic response after you leave your doctor’s office, go to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately.

Your symptoms won’t stop overnight. In general, they improve during the first year of treatment; most notably the second year. By the third year, most patients do not experience significant allergic responses to these allergens.

Some patients do not have any significant allergic reactions after a few years of successful treatment, while others need to receive ongoing shots to control their symptoms.

6900 N. 10th St., Suite 11
McAllen, TX 78504