Also known as immunotherapy, allergy shots are the only treatment available that can possibly provide long-term relief of allergy symptoms. The shots contain extracts from the substances people are allergic to, and can treat allergies to things like pollens, insects, and pets. Typically, after a series of shots, a person's allergy symptoms are either reduced or disappear completely.
Allergy shots are the only available allergy treatment that has a chance of providing long-term allergy relief. They involve injections under the skin. These injections include small amounts of the substances people are allergic to. This is called immunotherapy.
Over time, as the dose of the allergy shot is increased, the patient becomes hyposensitized (less allergic) to the allergens because the body (for reasons not yet fully understood) becomes more tolerant to the offending substances. The allergy symptoms, including sneezing and watery eyes -- and the need for medication -- are reduced or disappear completely.
What Do They Treat?Allergy shots contain allergy extracts from the substance people are allergic to. The allergy shot extracts are used both to treat and to test individuals to determine exactly what causes their allergic reactions. Allergy shots can be used to treat:
- Pollen allergy from trees, grasses, and weeds
- House dust mites
- Molds found indoors and outside
- Stinging insects such as honey bees, yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps.
Allergy shots work extremely well in patients that clearly have allergic symptoms -- either in their nose (like allergic rhinitis) or bronchial asthma -- caused by outdoor allergens like tree, weed, and grass pollens.
Patients with allergies to molds, house dust mites (microscopic insects that feed on human skin cells found on furniture, bedding, and carpets), and animal dander (tiny skin flakes animals continually shed) don't respond quite as well to allergy shots as those allergic to outdoor allergens. However, standardization of extracts for cat dander and dust mites, and overall better preparations, have increased the effectiveness of the shots even for these patients.