Allergy shots are the most commonly used and most effective form of allergy immunotherapy. They are indicated for the treatment of allergic conditions affecting the nose and eyes (allergic rhino-conjunctivitis), ears (allergic otitis media), lungs (bronchial asthma) as well as for severe insect sting allergy. Shots are effective in treating reactions to many allergens, including trees, grass, weeds, mold, house dust, animal dander, and insect stings.
An extract of a small amount of the allergen is injected into the skin of the arm. An injection may be given once a week (sometimes more often) for about seven months, after which injections can be administered every two weeks. Eventually, injections can be given every four weeks. The duration of therapy may be three to five years, sometimes longer.
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Allergy shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), have been a proven allergy treatment for more than 100 years. They are the only treatment that changes the immune system. They prevent new allergies and asthma from developing and have a lasting beneficial effect, well after therapy has been completed
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a newer form of immunotherapy. Instead of injecting an allergen under the skin, small doses are administered under the tongue. There are two types of SLIT – tablets and drops – but the only forms that have currently been approved by the FDA are tablets for ragweed, grass pollen and dust mite
Allergy sufferers are typically allergic to more than one allergen. Shots can provide relief for more than one allergen, while SLIT treatments are limited to a single allergen. In addition, allergy shots have been proven effective in treating allergies to ragweed relatives like avocado, melon and some other fruits. It is unclear whether the new allergy tablets for ragweed will offer this protection.
Life’s too short to struggle with allergies and wonder about treatment options. Find answers with an allergist.
This page was reviewed for accuracy 12/28/2017.