Over 50 million people in the US deal with some type of allergy. Numerous environmental, medication, and food-related factors can cause an abnormal bodily response. Allergic reactions to these and other substances (referred to as allergens) can elicit several different reactions, including respiratory problems (allergic rhinitis, chest pains, wheezing), skin irritation, and anaphylaxis that can lead to shock, weak pulse, and nausea.
Regardless of what kind of allergy you’re dealing with, getting the proper treatment can make a difference in managing your condition. So, how do you know if an allergy shot is a treatment for you? To find out, let’s examine how allergies work, what allergy shots help, and who is likely to benefit from them.
Allergy sufferers in the Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, areas looking for relief can find help with Dr. Shailee Madhok and her skilled medical team at Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center.
How allergies work
Allergic reactions result from an overreaction of your immune system, which helps your body fight off various forms of illness and disease. When the immune system reacts to harmful bacteria, viruses, or other foreign substances, it creates antibodies to help identify and neutralize them. With allergies, your immune system interprets various substances called allergens as harmful and creates an abnormal reaction to them, leading to the symptoms of your allergic responses.
Pet dander (dry skin flakes), urine, or saliva lead to pet allergies. Many foods (nuts, wheat, soy, fish, eggs, shellfish, and milk), latex, and certain medications (penicillin or related antibiotics) are examples of allergens that lead to allergies in many people.
What allergy shots do
Also referred to as allergen immunotherapy, allergy shots work in a fashion similar to vaccines, where they help train your body to develop a tolerance or immunity to a given allergen by exposing you to gradually increased doses. It starts with what is known as a build-up phase, which consists of injections that slowly build increased, controlled exposure to the number of allergens up to twice a week for up to six months.
Once you reach the most effective dosage, you are in the maintenance phase, which will see longer periods between injections (two weeks to a month apart). Symptoms can decrease during the build-up phase, but it can take up to a year after the maintenance doses start to notice significant improvements. If allergen immunotherapy is effective, it can continue for up to five years.
People most likely to benefit from them
The primary criteria for considering this treatment centers around:
- How long you’ve had the allergy: the length of time you’ve been dealing with this allergy can affect how well the treatment works
- How severe it is: the more severe it is, the harder it may be to treat
- How effective other treatments are managing it: If you’re getting success from medications or other treatments, this method may not be useful
- The time you can devote to treatment: you will need to get shots up to twice a week in the early phase so time management will be important
These shots are good for people with pet, dust mite, mold, or pollen allergies and venom from insects, such as honey bees, wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets.
Allergy shots aren’t effective for people dealing with latex, drug, or food allergies. You should avoid those triggers as much as possible to prevent reactions. While children and adults may benefit from allergy shots, children under five are not typically recommended to get them due to potential problems with their cooperation and issues with articulating symptoms.
While it doesn’t work for every allergy, allergy shots can make a difference for those dealing with reactions from the allergens it treats. If you’re suffering and need treatment, make an appointment with Dr. Madhok and Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center today to start feeling better.