Many of us have heard of “allergy shots” but I’ve noticed there is some confusion about what they are. Allergy shots are a series of shots that decrease your body’s overreaction to allergic substances. They are tailor-made just for you based on your allergies.
How do allergy shots work? They work by increasing the number of regulatory cells for your allergens in your blood that decrease the hyper-responsiveness of the allergic cells. By repeated, frequent and low level but increasing exposure to your allergies, these regulatory cells that normally hide in your lymph nodes, waiting for your “allergy season” are drawn into your blood in numbers that better control the allergy cells. Your allergy cells are at their posts all the time, and allergy is the default way that the immune system reacts so this is a process.
How often do I need to come for allergy shots and for how long? There are two phases to the allergy shots, building and maintenance. The building phase is when the dose is increasing and during the maintenance phase, you get the same, maintenance dose. Our Allergy societies recommend that you get the maintenance dose for 3-5 years, the longer the better in that your time for “allergy remission” is more likely to last longer.
In terms of the building phase, this is more involved but there are several choices for you. You can do the traditional, once per week shot. This takes about 39-42 weeks, depending on how you do. If you get the shots twice per week with 48 hours between the shot, you can get the building phase done in half the time so approximately 20 weeks. Each time, we have you wait 30 minutes to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction.
Finally, there is a cluster protocol, designed to be a safe yet speedier way to progress to the maintenance phase. Once weekly, you get a series of shots and are here about 2.5 hours. Because we are giving you a lot of allergen, we pre-medicate you and check your breathing ahead of time to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible. With this method, you get to the maintenance vial in 5 weeks and then a few more shots and you are on the maintenance dose at the maintenance frequency, 1 time per month.
What if I have symptoms between shots? You can absolutely take all of your allergy medication and then taper it to “as needed” when you are ready. Also, if you are at the maintenance dose and frequency, coming once per month, we then recommend you come more frequently, when you start feeling that your symptoms are returning. Usually, patients come more frequently at the beginning of their maintenance and during higher pollen seasons and then back down to once monthly the rest of the year.
Are there side effects? Although rare, you can have an allergic reaction. This is why we have you wait 30 minutes. That being said, you can be allergic to anything, and we prescribe the antidote, an epinephrine autoinjector for you to carry with you on the days you get your shots, just in case. More frequently and especially during allergy season, patients can get local reactions, like itching and swelling, at the site of the injections.
Are there long-term side effects? No there are no long-term side effects.
Do I have to see the Doctor every time? No. You would see our Nurse injector or one of her medical assistants.
Do I have to pay a copay every time? No. This is meant to be a quick Nurse visit.
What if you are not close? We allow a Physician or Nurse Practitioner to take custody of your shots and care if they also consent to take responsibility for your safety and feel comfortable giving you the shots.
What if my schedule is crazy? You can walk in anytime during our shot hours, which is from the opening of the clinic to 30 minutes before closing, to give you time to wait. We have convenient early morning hours once per week and later hours once per week to accommodate our hard-working patients.
What are the benefits of allergy shots?
Why are you waiting to be comfortable? If you or your child need help controlling allergies or if you think you need testing or treatment or that you might be a good candidate for allergy shots, Dr. Wendt and her team staff at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives would love to help.
Relieve Allergy Asthma & Hives is located near Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter, DC Ranch and Grayhawk at 21803 N. Scottsdale Road Ste. 200, on the corners of Deer Valley and Scottsdale Roads, and has convenient evening and early morning hours to accommodate your schedule.
Dr. Wendt is also available for telemedicine appointments as appropriate. Insurance plans accepted. Call 480-500-1902 today to schedule an appointment now and begin your allergy testing and treatment with Dr. Wendt at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Learn more about Dr. Wendt and Relieve Allergy Asthma & Hives at www.relieveallergyaz.com and FOLLOW US on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Linked In.