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How Long Does It Take For Allergy Shots To Work

Who Is This Treatment Suitable For

Allergy Shots Overview

A decision about whether or not to have immunotherapy will depend on several factors, such as how severely you react to the stings, how likely you are to be stung and how high the risk of treatment side effects is.

Immunotherapy is particularly suitable for

  • people who react especially severely to insect venom and, for instance, have already had cardiac arrest as a result, as well as for
  • people who have a mast cell disease . In this rare disorder, certain immune cells in the tissue start multiplying a lot. Mastocytosis can occur in various organs, causing symptoms such as stomach ache, itching, exhaustion and muscle pain.

If a person’s only reaction to an allergen so far is a skin reaction, they generally won’t need to have allergen-specific immunotherapy. In most cases they won’t start having more dangerous allergic reactions later on, either.

People can have allergen-specific immunotherapy from the age of two. Women who have already started having this treatment can carry on having it if they get pregnant. But it isn’t advisable to start during pregnancy. The treatment could possibly lead to an extreme allergic reaction in the mother, which could also affect the unborn child. For this reason, women who are planning to become pregnant should consider immunotherapy far enough in advance.

Some medications, such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, shouldn’t be taken during immunotherapy for an insect venom . Doing so increases the risk of having a severe allergic reaction.

Do Allergy Desensitization Shots Work

  • Do Allergy Desensitization Shots Work? Center
  • Allergies happen when your immune system overreacts to harmless substances called allergens. When you come into contact with an allergen, your body makes antibodies and releases chemicals like histamines. These antibodies and chemicals cause inflammation and lead to symptoms like sneezing, itchy, red eyes, hives, and runny nose.

    Normally, allergy treatment involves avoiding allergens, and taking medications like antihistamines, decongestants, or steroids to reduce inflammation and symptoms.

    Sometimes, allergies can last a long time or interfere with your life, though. Moreover, some people have severe allergies that cause anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.

    Allergy desensitization shots can be helpful for severe allergies or in cases where other treatments dont work. They are considered a disease-modifying treatment because they can make some allergies better. The effects can last long after the treatment stops, but its not necessarily a cure.

    What Matters Most To You

    Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

    Reasons to choose allergy shots

    Reasons not to choose allergy shots

    I want to do whatever possible to relieve my symptoms even if I don’t know how long the shots will work.

    I don’t want allergy shots if I can’t be sure how long they will work.

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    What Kind Of Allergy Shots Do I Need

    The kind of shot you get depends on what youre allergic to. Before starting treatment, youll be tested to identify exactly what substances trigger your symptoms and determine what goes into your treatment.

    For example, if you experience a lot of symptoms in the spring, you may have a pollen allergy. Youll be tested to determine exactly what type of pollen your immune system is reacting to. Your immunologist will then formulate allergy shots that are made just for you.

    What Is Claritin Supposed To Do

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    Claritin is a brand name for the drug loratadine which is an antihistamine used to treat allergies as well as hives or rashes. Antihistamines reduce the effects of histamines. Histamines are natural chemicals the body produces to help your body get rid of something thats bothering your immune system, such as an allergen.

    In order to get rid of the allergen, histamines will heighten your bodys defense system causing you to sneeze, cough, tear up, have a runny nose, and itch to help get the allergen out of your system. Sometimes histamines can go overboard and leave you a miserable, sneezing, itching mess, so many people use antihistamines like Claritin to reduce the response their body has to allergens.

    Claritin is designed to reduce the following symptoms:

    • Itching
    • Hives
    • Runny nose

    Claritin uses a formula that avoids the drowsiness many antihistamines produce so you can get allergy relief without feeling tired or foggy.

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    Getting The Most Out Of Treatment

    We do have a number of patients who come to our clinic either actively receiving shots from another physician or having been on allergy shots in the past who remain symptomatic. Some have even been on shots for 20-30 years or longer! This is usually explained by the fact that the amount of allergen extract in the shot is insufficient or by the fact that their tests were incorrectly interpreted in the first place and they were never really allergic at all! Patients should ask their shot provider if the contents of their shots and the schedules by which they are administered meet current AAAAI/ACAAI guidelines. Also, patients should be aware of what is actually contained in their allergy shots. The use of generic mixes of allergens is very popular and can be potentially harmful if the patient is not allergic to each component of the mix.Shot providers should be able and willing to discuss the contents of the shot, the amounts of each allergen, the schedule by which the shots will be administered, and how this plan follows the guidelines for allergen immunotherapy.

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    Antihistamines Can Make Allergy Shots Easier

    Taking an oral antihistamine before each shot can help reduce side effects and reactions. “We really encourage patients to take them beforehand, especially as they get closer to their maintenance dose and their local reactions can get pretty bad,” says Dr. Dziadzio.

    And if that’s not enough reason to pop a pill beforehand, some research even suggests that pre-treatment with an antihistamine during the build-up phase of allergy shots can improve the shots’ effectiveness too.

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    Disadvantages Of Allergy Immunotherapy

    As with all types of medical procedures and treatments, allergy desensitization has some drawbacks. Following are some of the more common disadvantages of allergy shots:

    • Immunotherapy does not work on every type of allergy. It is true that shots work well for common allergies such as pet dander, pollen, dust, and other pollutants found in the home. Shots are ineffective for treating food allergies and urticaria. Urticaria causes chronic hives related to an underlying disease such as hyperthyroidism or lupus. In addition, insect venom allergies such as bee stings or spider bites cannot be prevented by allergy shots.
    • Some patients have a reaction that shows up as redness, swelling, and tenderness at the injection site. However, injection site reactions usually last just one day.
    • Occasionally, certain patients balk at the time commitment needed for successful allergy prevention. Missing appointments can delay or derail relief from allergies.
    • Allergy shots can worsen allergy symptoms at first when the injection regimen starts.
    • Since allergy shots rarely cause anaphylaxis, patients must wait in their physicians office for 30 minutes until the danger of anaphylaxis passes.

    Cluster Immunotherapy: Rapid Desensitization

    How Allergy Vials are Made for Allergy Shots

    Allergen cluster immunotherapy, or allergy shots, is a disease-modifying treatment for allergic disease. It has the advantage of actually decreasing or eliminating allergic disease versus the use of medications which just treats the symptoms and the subsequent associated inflammatory changes. Traditional immunotherapy was first described and successfully used since 1911 by Leonard Noon in London. Accelerated immunotherapy schedules have been described and used since 1930 by John Freeman, who was one of the original co-developers of immunotherapy.

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    Key Points To Remember

    • There is no cure for allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma. But allergy shots may provide long-term relief of symptoms.
    • Allergy shots will probably help you. They are effective for most people and can reduce symptoms if you are allergic to pollens, animal dander, dust mites, mold, or cockroaches.footnote 1 Allergy shots may prevent children with allergic rhinitis from getting asthma.footnote 1
    • You need to take allergy shots for 3 to 5 years.
    • You cannot be sure how long the shots will be effective after you stop getting them. For allergies to some grasses, shots have been effective for 3 or 4 years.footnote 1
    • If you have coronary artery disease, are using beta-blockers, are pregnant, are not able to communicate how the shots are working, or have an impaired immune system, allergy shots may not be recommended.
    • Children may use allergy shots if they have persistent asthma made worse by allergens.
    • Children younger than 2 should not have allergy shots.
    • Children ages 3 to 4 may find it hard to have to get many shots over a long period of time. Talk with your doctor.
    • Your child’s asthma needs to be well controlled before he or she gets allergy shots.

    What are the risks and side effects?

    • The shots usually work to relieve allergy symptoms.
    • You can take medicine to control allergy or asthma symptoms, and you can try to avoid the allergen.
    • You will avoid having shots.
    • You won’t have to spend the money on a long series of shots.
    • You won’t have to travel to a clinic for regular shots.

    Pros And Cons Of An Accelerated Schedule

    The most obvious advantage of an accelerated allergy shot schedule is that youll receive lasting relief from allergy symptoms faster and with fewer visits to the allergist.

    Over time, an accelerated schedule could save you money and time. You wont be missing work and traveling to see an allergist as much as patients on a conventional schedule.

    One disadvantage of an accelerated allergy shot schedule is that some patients suffer greater allergic reactions to the shots, although antihistamines and corticosteroids can prevent or minimize adverse reactions.

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    How Long Do I Need To Get Allergy Shots

    To be most effective, you should continue to get allergy shots for 3-5 years. At that point, most patients will have developed an immunity to the allergen that allows them to be exposed to the allergen without having an allergic reaction.

    Lakeside Allergy ENT is home to three board-certified otolaryngologists and allergy doctors who specialize in diagnosis and treatment of all ear, nose, and throat-related disorders, including allergies and allergy testing. If you or your child has any symptoms of allergies and you want to learn more about allergy testing, our office at or get started by requesting an appointment with our expert allergists using the form on this page.

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    Insect Venom Allergies: Short

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    Insect venom allergies are most commonly caused by bee stings and wasp stings. More severe allergic reactions can quickly be treated using an emergency kit. Allergen-specific immunotherapy is often successful in the treatment of insect venom allergies: It can prevent severe allergic reactions.

    Insect stings or bites can have unpleasant effects in people who are allergic to them: Within a very short amount of time they can cause swelling around the sting or bite, nausea, dizziness, a rash, breathing difficulties and in rare cases even life-threatening cardiac arrest .

    Living with this risk can be frightening. But it’s still important to stay calm if you get stung by an insect that you’re allergic to. Severe consequences are very rare if the medications in the emergency kit are used soon enough.

    Unlike many other allergies, insect venom allergies can be treated with allergen-specific immunotherapy . This involves allowing the immune system to gradually get used to the insect venom. Most people who complete this treatment are no longer at risk of having dangerous reactions to the insect venom for a long time afterwards.

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    Are Allergy Shots Effective

    Allergy shots work best for allergies caused by:

    • Some pollens

    • Insect stings

    Unfortunately, allergy shots do not work for drug, latex, or food allergies.

    Allergy shots do not cure allergies. After allergy shots, many people have fewer or no allergy symptoms. For many people, that relief can last for years. Unfortunately, some people do have early relapses of symptoms. Healthcare providers cannot predict who will relapse. But, in these cases, a person can restart allergy shots.

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    What Common Allergies Do Dogs Have

    Several different types of allergies can affect dogs. The most common are skin allergies. If your dog has a skin allergy, it is probably due to one of three factors:

    1)Flea allergy dermatitis occurs when your dog has an allergic reaction to flea bites. It causes your dogs skin to become itchy, red, and inflamed. Flea allergies are managed by keeping fleas away from your dog with preventative medication.

    2) Food allergiescan cause symptoms such as itching, hives, skin infections, and ear infections. Itchy ears, itchy paws, and digestive problems can also be signs of a food allergy. However, true food allergies are far less common than many people think. Less than 1% of dogs and cats combined have a true food allergy. It is more common for a dog to have a food intolerance. Food allergies can be managed by removing foods your dog is sensitive to from their diet.

    3) Environmental allergies are caused by things in the environment such as dust, pollen, smoke, mold, grasses, or other substances. Your dogs immune system may respond to these allergens as if they were foreign invaders . These allergies can be treated using allergy shots. Youll still want to remove as many allergens as possible from your dogs environment.

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    Alternatives To Allergy Shots

    Allergy Tablets

    The FDA has recently approved oral immunotherapy tablets for sale within the US. There are now three allergy tablets approved by the FDA:Oralair Grastek Ragwitek

    These are all fast-dissolving tablets that are placed under the tongue and contain specific pollen extracts. They are meant to be taken at least 12 weeks prior to the start of the grass or ragweed season.

    The concept is the same as allergy shots build up your tolerance to bothersome allergens through consistent exposure. Family Allergy & Asthmas Research Institute participated in the clinical trials of the grass tablets. In general, they are less effective than allergy shots. Allergy shots have an effectiveness of over 80%. Allergy tablets are in the range of 40-60% effective. Tablets are generally not the best option for patients who are allergic to multiple things, though may be a good option for someone allergic only to grass or ragweed.

    Additional Information on the Tablets:

    -Allergy tablets require a prescription, and it is required that a patient is allergy tested prior to being prescribed the tablet.

    -The cost of the tablets will vary based on your insurance. At this time, we expect the cost to be comparable to allergy shots for most patients.

    Allergy Drops

    What Are Alternative Routes To Allergy Shots

    Allergy Immunotherapy Shots 101

    Although allergy shots are the most common form of immunotherapy in the U.S., some other methods of allergen-specific therapy have been investigated and proven effective in controlled studies.

    • Nasal immunotherapy: Allergens are sprayed onto the nasal mucosa. This technique is not currently available or FDA-approved, though it appears to be effective. Clinical trials have revealed frequent local side effects.
    • Sublingual Oral immunotherapy : Allergens are orally ingested. This technique has proven effective in some studies, and three products are FDA-approved. Oral immunotherapy offers some promise as a future treatment for food allergy as well.

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    What Are My Treatment Options For Seasonal Allergies

    After a patient has been allergy-tested and diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, our physicians use a three-tier approach for treatment: avoidance, medication, and immunotherapy. Patients who can avoid the trigger of their allergies or if the usual doses of allergy medications can control their symptoms may not need immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called allergy shots, is proven effective against inhalant allergies and stinging insect allergies and may be recommended if the patients allergies are not under control.

    Skin Testing Identifies Allergens

    Skin testing is the gold standard. Blood tests are also available, but reactions in the blood and the skin are not always the same. When investigating symptoms on the skin, we want to go directly to the skin to test reactions, explains Dr. Miller.

    Dr. Miller wants owners to understand that skin testing does not diagnose allergies. Testing is done only in the context of pursuing immunotherapy treatment. In some circumstances, a dog can be allergic yet have normal or negative allergy test results. This does not mean the dog is not allergic. Rather, it means that allergy shots are not a treatment option for that patient.

    After one year of shots, we start to wean the pet off the other allergy medication to see if any improvements have been made to the allergic signs. If there has been no change, we may stop giving shots and choose a different therapy. If the shots appear to be working, they may be continued for life, explains Dr. Miller.

    The goal of immunotherapy is to control the allergies, not to cure them. With proper treatment and owner education, many dogs with allergies can have perfectly normal, happy lives.

    If you have questions about allergies and immunotherapy, contact your veterinarian or the veterinary dermatology service at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

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