AAFA Explains: Allergy Shots—Fighting the Cause of Allergies

 

If you are one of the 50 million Americans living with allergies, you’re probably familiar with the tell-tale signs of allergies, such as sneezing, itchy nose, and watery eyes.  But do you know what causes these symptoms? 

Let’s start at the beginning.  An allergy is a disease of the immune system. The body’s immune system receives input from the environment and produces a response. Its purpose is to recognize and attack foreign invaders, such as bacteria and parasites. An allergy occurs when the immune system thinks a non-threatening substance is harmful and overreacts to it.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

It’s important to talk to your doctor about whether you need a treatment option and, if so, which one is right for you.

Here are some options for treating your allergies:

  • Avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms.
  • Use medicines that relieve the symptoms of allergies. This includes medicines available over-the-counter and by prescription. These therapies come in the form of pills, eye drops and nasal sprays.
  • Talk to your doctor about allergen immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is available in the form of allergy shots and sublingual tablets.

FIGHT THE CAUSE OF ALLERGY

Allergy immunotherapy is the only treatment option that targets the cause of allergies. For many patients, this may lead to:

  • An improved quality of life
  • A prolonged end to discomfort and feeling ill
  • Freedom to enjoy outdoor activities during allergy season
  • Fewer problems having pets at home or vising family or friends with pets

There are two types of allergen immunotherapy available today--allergy shots and allergen tablets.

Allergy shots involve giving injections of allergens in an increasing dose over time. This form of immunotherapy works well for people with multiple allergies to house dust mites, pollens (from grasses, trees and weeds), pet dander and mold. 

Allergen tablets involve giving small doses of an allergen under the tongue. These tablets are currently available in the USA for grass and ragweed.

UNDERSTANDING ALLERGY SHOTS

Your doctor will review your skin or blood test results and determine which allergy triggers to select for immunotherapy. The products mixed for your allergy shots are called allergen extracts. These extracts are approved for clinical treatment.

You will work with your allergy specialist to develop a treatment plan. This plan will determine the frequency of your visits. Typically, patients beginning immunotherapy have 1-2 visits per week until reaching the maintenance phase. When you have reached maintenance, appointments may be less frequent occurring once every 1 to 6 weeks.

To learn more about allergy shots and how to Fight the Cause of Allergy, visit http://fightthecauseofallergy.org.

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