An allergy shot contains a very small amount of the substance that you are allergic to (called an allergen). Common allergens include mold, house dust mites, cat and dog dander, and pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds.
How do Allergy Shots Work?
Allergy shots help your body build a tolerance to the allergens that cause you symptoms. Over time body reacts less to the allergen and your allergy symptoms become less severe. Consequently, you will need little to no medicine. In addition, by doing this long enough, this relief may become permanent.
Allergy shots work well for allergic asthma, pollen allergies (also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever), house dust mite allergies, cat and dog allergies, eye allergies, and bee-sting allergies.
You will start getting shots 1 or 2 times each week. After about 4 months of weekly shots, your doctor will decide when you can start maintenance treatment. Maintenance shots are usually given just once each month, year round. You’ll probably need to get maintenance shots for 3 to 5 years. Then you may be able to stop having shots.
Are Allergy Shots Harmful?
Allergy shots are usually safe. But because allergy shots contain small amounts of an allergen you might have an allergic reaction to the shot itself. One common reaction to allergy shots is swelling at the place where the shot is given.
Some people can also have severe, shock-like reactions to an allergy shot. This type of reaction is called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is rare but very serious. If you get your shots on schedule (every week or every month), you’re less likely to have this kind of reaction.
In case you have a bad reaction, your doctor will have you stay at the office for about 20 minutes every time you get your shot. That way, if you have a reaction to the shot, your doctor can give you something right away to stop it.
It usually takes 6 months or more of shots before you start feeling better and notice relief of your allergy symptoms. If you don’t feel better after this time, you should probably talk with your doctor about another kind of treatment for your allergies.