Allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a
form of long-term treatment that decreases symptoms for many
people with allergy problems.
Allergy shots decrease sensitivity to allergens and often leads
to lasting relief of allergy symptoms even after treatment is
stopped. Both children and adults can receive allergy shots,
Allergy shots are not used to treat food allergies. The best
option for people with food allergies is to strictly avoid that
How Do Allergy Shots Work?
Your body responds to injected amounts of a particular
allergen, given in gradually increasing doses, by developing
immunity or tolerance to the allergen.
There are two phases:
• Build-up phase. This involves receiving injections with
increasing amounts of the allergens about one to two times
per week. The length of this phase depends upon how often
the injections are received, but generally ranges from three to
• Maintenance phase. This begins once the effective dose is
reached. The effective maintenance dose depends on your
level of allergen sensitivity and your response to the build-up
phase. During the maintenance phase, there will be longer
periods of time between treatments, ranging from two to four
weeks. Your allergist / immunologist will decide what range is
best for you.
How Effective Are Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots have shown to decrease symptoms of many
allergies. It can prevent the development of new allergies, and
in children it can prevent the progression of allergic disease
from allergic rhinitis to asthma. The effectiveness of allergy
shots appears to be related to the length of the treatment
program as well as the dose of the allergen.
Where Should Allergy Shots Be Given?
This type of treatment should be supervised by a specialized
physician in a facility equipped with proper staff and
equipment to identify and treat adverse reactions to allergy
injections. Ideally, immunotherapy should be given in your
allergist / immunologist's office. If this is not possible, your
allergist / immunologist should provide the supervising
physician with comprehensive instructions about your allergy