Immunotherapy, also known as "allergy shots," allows your body to get used to the allergens that cause symptoms of hay fever, asthma or allergic reactions to insect bites or stings. Once you've had allergy testing, your allergist will know exactly what's causing your symptoms. With this information, your physician prescribes personalized immunotherapy based on your symptoms, medical history and physical exam.
How Immunotherapy Works
Immunotherapy works like a vaccine. Each shot contains a small amount of the allergens that are causing your symptoms. The shots start at a low dosage and increase with time. The goal is to get your body to tolerate the allergen. A higher tolerance means fewer symptoms.
Allergy shots are effective over time, as they require three to six months for symptoms to improve, and some people need shots for longer to get the maximum benefit. Your doctor works with you and monitors your progress. We develop an individualized plan and meet with you periodically to review your treatment. If your allergic symptoms are constant, you might need to see us every six to 12 months. Patients who are doing well can have treatment reviews once a year.
After your shot, we ask that you stay in our office for 20 to 30 minutes to ensure that there are no reactions. On the off chance of a reaction, we ease your discomfort and adjust your dose so you have a smaller risk of reaction in the future.
To make an appointment, call 216-778-2213. Referrals are not required.
Common Questions about Allergy Shots
- Do I really have to stay at the clinic for 20 to 30 minutes each time I get an allergy shot?
Yes. We do this for your safety. Don't come for your shot if you don't have time to wait. Come another day when you have time.
- What if I'm sick on the day I get my shot?
If you aren't feeling well, call us before you come in. We might want to postpone your shot.
- What else can I do to treat my allergies?
First things first: Avoid allergens if you can. Then, take medications as directed by your doctor.
- Do I still need to avoid things I'm allergic to if I'm getting allergy shots?
Some things—like mold—can't be avoided. But it's always best to avoid allergens when you can.
- Should I keep taking my allergy medications during immunotherapy?
Yes, but you might need smaller doses when your immunotherapy starts to work. Talk to your doctor before reducing or stopping any medications.
- When should I have allergy testing done again?
We recommend getting tested every three to five years. If you have new problems, get tested sooner.
- Should I tell the doctor or nurse if I'm on a new medication?
Yes. Some medications don't mix well with immunotherapy, especially beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors. Talk to your doctor or nurse.
- What happens if I become pregnant?
Visit the allergist to review your allergy treatment plan together. Allergy shots won't cause or prevent allergies in your baby, and we won't increase your dose during pregnancy. However, immunotherapy during pregnancy might mean you need less of other medications. This is a benefit for moms trying to keep medications at a minimum.
- What should I do about my allergy shots if I go on vacation?
You can skip shots if you're gone less than three weeks. If you're going to be gone longer, talk to your nurse. We'll help you come up with a plan.
- Will my maintenance dose always be the same amount? Will the timing stay the same?
No. You might be able to space your shots further apart. The amount of allergen in your maintenance dose might increase during peak pollen and mold seasons. Let us know what's working—and what isn't—and we'll tweak your treatment plan as needed.