Allergy shots – also called subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) – are the most common form of immunotherapy. Several different allergens can be combined into one injection, helping to build tolerance to multiple allergens at once.
There is no age restriction for undergoing allergen immunotherapy. Shots are administered in a board-certified allergist’s office once or twice weekly. That schedule will continue for about 6-12 months, as your allergist increases the level of allergen extract in your injections until the maintenance dose is reached.
Depending on your response to therapy, your allergist may then decrease the frequency of your shots from once a week to once a month. If you are doing well after 3-5 years and no longer need most or all allergy medications, your allergist may discontinue immunotherapy.
While serious allergic reactions to allergy shots are rare, the procedure should be conducted in an allergist’s office equipped with epinephrine auto-injectors in case a serious reaction such as anaphylaxis occurs. Always remain at the allergist’s office for a full 30 minutes following the injection. A reaction can happen hours later, however, so be sure to carry epinephrine auto-injectors with you. If anaphylaxis symptoms occur – difficulty breathing, tightness in the throat, hives or swelling, nausea, vomiting, fainting, diarrhea or abdominal pain – immediately administer the epinephrine auto-injector and seek emergency treatment.
How long are allergy shots effective?
Allergy shots lead to a long-lasting reduction of symptoms for many people; others may lose their immunity at some point and choose to resume allergy shots.
If you completed allergen immunotherapy and are experiencing symptoms, see your allergist for testing and treatment. It may not necessarily be old allergies returning; it’s possible you developed a new allergy, perhaps after moving or starting a job in a different environment.
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Last updated : 12/11/2020