Allergy sufferers often turn to medication for relief. While products such as antihistamines can reduce your symptoms, the effects are temporary. Immunotherapy, commonly referred to as “allergy shots,” involves injecting small amounts of allergen on a regular basis in order to build up a tolerance. This is a safe and effective long-term treatment approach designed to reduce, or even eliminate, your allergy symptoms. Immunotherapy is a great alternative for people who do not find relief from allergy medicines.

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When the allergen responsible for triggering your symptoms is identified, an extract is prepared and administered via injection to your upper arm. The dosage starts out small, but is gradually increased until you reach a “maintenance dose.” This allows your body to become desensitized and build up a tolerance. Initially you’ll receive injections once or twice a week; once a maintenance dose has been established, shots are given every 2-4 weeks for several months. Your doctor will then space apart your allergy shots until you are receiving them about once a month. This stage will last 3-5 years, but the long-term results are worth the effort for many allergy sufferers who had been unable to find relief.

Immunotherapy is an effective treatment for a variety of allergies including pollen, mold, dust mites, pet dander and insect stings. They generally do not work for food or drug allergies. Immunotherapy is considered safe, with little risk of side effects or complications other than a little redness or swelling at the injection site. Regular injections reduce the odds of any serious reactions.