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Overview

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 , 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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SCIT vs SLIT: What’s the Difference?

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.

There are pros and cons of these different forms of treatment. Your allergist can help your make good short- and long-term decisions.

What Are the Risks of Allergy Shots?

There is a small danger of anaphylactic shock (a severe allergic reaction) shortly after an injection. Therefore, allergy shots are given in an allergist’s office.

Can Allergy Shots Relieve Asthma?

Allergy shots are effective in the treatment of allergic asthma. Allergy shots can help relieve the allergic reactions that trigger asthma episodes, thereby enhancing breathing and decreasing the need for asthma medications.

 

This page was reviewed and updated 12/28/2017.