One of the ways to minimize or eliminate allergy symptoms is through allergy shots. This article explains what allergy shots are, how they work, the different types of allergy shots, and the side effects of allergy shots. This is good background information if you’re considering talking with your doctor about this approach to addressing your allergy symptoms.
How Do Allergy Shots Work?
People who’ll be having injections for allergies often wonder, “How do allergy shots work?”. The answer is that the injections contain a small amount of the substance that triggers their allergy (i.e., the “allergen”). Repeated exposure to the substance enables the body to gradually build up immunity to it. This process has two main steps. First, you have tests done to determine exactly what it is you’re allergic to. This involves your doctor pricking the skin on your back or forearm with different allergens to see which ones cause an allergic reaction.
Next, your doctor begins providing the allergy injections. Initially, you’ll get shots more frequently in what’s called the “buildup” phase. Eventually, you’ll move into the “maintenance” phase, in which shots are needed less frequently.
Immunotherapy for Allergies
This type of immunotherapy for allergies requires that you receive enough of an allergen to stimulate your immune system but not enough to trigger a full-blown allergic reaction. As your treatment progresses, the amount of allergen is increased, which helps your body become desensitized to the substance.
Side Effects of Allergy Shots
Allergy shots are safe. However, immunotherapy for allergies can produce side effects, which are typically minor. They include:
- Redness and swelling at the injection site
- Stuffy nose
- Sneezing or coughing
- Itchy, watery eyes
In some cases, a more severe reaction can occur and produce wheezing, swelling of the throat and tightness in the chest. A rare, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis is possible. It produces dangerously low blood pressure and trouble breathing. Again, these types of reactions aren’t common. If they do occur, it’s generally within half an hour of the injection. Consequently, your doctor will likely have you stay at their office for 30 minutes or so after you get your treatment to monitor you in case any serious allergy shot side effects arise.
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Do Allergy Shots Work?
Allergy shots can be very effective at minimizing or eliminating allergy symptoms. Some improvement typically occurs in the first year of treatment, with more noticeable results seen in the second year. And while some people require ongoing injections, others maintain the benefits of treatment even after they are no longer receiving shots.
Immunotherapy for allergies can be a long-term alternative to medications or other treatments. Book an appointment with a Baptist Health provider today to get started.