Allergy immunotherapy also known as “allergy shots” works by gradually exposing the patient to increasing doses of the substances to which he or she is allergic. Allergy shots are made up of allergy extract that desensitizes the patient so that over time their allergy symptoms are reduced or even eliminated. While allergy medications might control symptoms, when you stop taking medications, your allergy symptoms will return. Allergy immunotherapy on the other hand is the only treatment that can lead to permanent remission of your allergies.
After completing a course of immunotherapy, many patients can stop immunotherapy and still have excellent ongoing relief. Research shows that allergy immunotherapy can also help prevent the development of new allergies and asthma. Allergy immunotherapy has been proven to be effective in treating allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic asthma, insect sting allergy, and atopic dermatitis. Charleston Allergy & Asthma prescribes high dose allergy immunotherapy in line with guidelines from the ACAAI and AAAAI national allergy societies. Use of high dose allergy immunotherapy maximizes both the immediate benefits and the duration of those benefits.
Allergy shots should be considered for people who do not respond completely to treatment with medications, who experience side effects from medications, who do not want to take medications indefinitely, who have allergen exposure that is unavoidable, or who desire a more permanent solution to their allergic problem. For many patients, allergy immunotherapy can be a great option that allows them to come off of their allergy medications and to achieve long lasting relief.
In fact, published economic studies demonstrate that allergy shots can yield savings to insurance plans by reducing the number of sick visits and medications used over a 5 year period. Allergy shots also become less expensive over time as the number of shot visits and amount of extract purchased decreases year after year. Once the shots are discontinued the benefit goes on for years after at no additional cost.