Allergy Shots

(Desensitization; Hyposensitization; Immunotherapy)

Type of Medication

Flu shot image Allergy shots are injections given just under the skin to help decrease allergic symptoms or reactions.

What Allergy Shots Are Most Frequently Prescribed For

Evidence shows that both allergy shots and sublingual (under the tongue) therapy help reduce symptoms of allergies. Shots are most often prescribed for: Allergy shots do not work on all allergies or on all people with allergies. For example, they are not used to treat food allergies. Allergy shots should be considered for patients with severe symptoms that are difficult to control with medications and when other forms of treatment have failed.

How Allergy Shots Work

Allergy shots decrease your sensitivity to allergens by exposing you to increasingly larger doses of the allergens to which you are reacting. An allergen is a substance that can produce an allergic, or hypersensitive response, often called an allergy attack. Pollen, dust mites, and mold spores are common allergens.First, your doctor will use skin or blood tests to determine what you are allergic to. Then, a shot is made from small amounts of these specific allergens. With repeated shots, your body becomes less sensitive to these allergens, causing you to have a less severe allergic reaction or none at all.It can take as long as 12 months of regular shots before you notice relief of your allergy symptoms.

Precautions While Using These Medicines

Allergy Shots Should Not Be Taken Under These Conditions:

  • If you are having severe asthma that is not controlled with medication
  • If you are having heart problems
  • If you are taking a beta-blocker
  • Any children under the age of 5 years

Discuss Pregnancy with Your Doctor

Women who are pregnant should not begin allergy shots. However, if a woman has been receiving allergy shots for some time when she becomes pregnant, she may be able to continue. Discuss your options with your doctor.

Discuss Other Medications

Tell your doctor if you are taking or plan to take any medications, including over-the-counter drugs, for both allergic and nonallergic conditions. Your allergy shots may affect the use of other medications.

Continue Other Measures

Allergy shots can greatly reduce allergy symptoms, but are not a guaranteed cure. Therefore, you should continue to avoid known allergens and use your medications while receiving shots.

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