Allergy Shots What Exactly Are They?

Allergy Shots What Exactly Are They?

Allergy shots are shots given to allergy sufferers to help their immune system build a tolerance for whatever allergen causes them problems. Allergy shots are prescribed and injected by a doctor after thorough skin or blood testing. The use of allergy shots to build up the immune system’s tolerance to an allergen is also called Immunotherapy. Allergy shots are normally prescribed for people who have severe allergies or who suffer from allergies for more than three months each year. They are also prescribed to people who don’t get relief from allergy medications or who can’t take normally prescribed allergy medication.

What Do Allergy Shots Do And Work?

Once a doctor does skin or blood testing to determine the allergens that cause the immune system to overact, a regiment of shots is created for immunotherapy. This immunotherapy regiment normally begins with shots containing small amounts of allergens and are given on a frequent basis, approximately two or more times a week. The amount of allergen is slowly increased over time, allowing the body to build up tolerance to the allergen safely. This is called the buildup phase.

After the buildup phase, immunotherapy continues with allergy shots that contain a maintenance dose of allergen for approximately five years. The shots are then given less frequently, decreasing to about once a month, for maintenance. This is called the maintenance phase. Depending on the type of allergy suffers will receive a steroid shot for their allergies.

How Do You Prepare for An Allergy Shot?

First, you should tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking. Some medications can increase the risks of side effects or interfere with the efficacy of allergy shots.

Second, you should let your doctor know if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.

Third, you should refrain from physical activity two hours before and two hours after receiving allergy shots. Physical activity can cause the allergen to be released too quickly into the body and could cause complications.

Lastly, you should monitor your reaction to the shot after you leave the doctor’s office. If you develop itchy eyes, hives, runny nose, a tight throat or shortness of breath after leaving the doctor’s office, take an antihistamine and return at once.


Though it may seem strange to inject a person with allergens that cause them to have allergic reactions, administering shots actually help the person build immunity to the allergens, much like immunizations do with measles, mumps, etc. Millions of people receive allergy shots each year without experiencing any side effects.

There are rarely any severe reactions to allergy shots, but they do happen on occasion. To help reduce the chance of a severe reaction, allergy shots should be prescribed and given by a licensed health professional. After you receive an allergy shot, you are required to remain in the doctor’s office for 20 to 30 minutes for observation. In addition, licensed Immunologists and Allergists have medications and equipment to handle severe reactions that might arise from receiving an allergy shot.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many allergy shots will I have to get?
Immunotherapy normally takes five years. For the first six months of those five years, you can expect to receive allergy shots at least twice a week. Once the maintenance period is reached, shots are given about once a month.

How long does it take to feel relief from allergies after taking allergy shots?
It normally takes about six months before feeling relief.

What kind of allergies can be treated with shots?
Allergies normally treated with allergy shots are pollen allergies, bee-sting allergies, hay fever, dust, mites, cockroaches, mold and pet dander. These are not all the allergies that can be treated with allergy shot, but are the most common.

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