Do you suffer from allergies? If so, you may have heard that allergy shots can improve your quality of life by reducing your sensitivity to your allergen or removing your allergy entirely. Of course, any medical procedure can be very intimidating if you do not understand it. This guide will explain what allergy shots are, how they work, and what the procedure is like so you can get your allergy shots with confidence.
What Are Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots are essentially small doses of your allergen. It is injected in order to stimulate your immune system. The shot contains such a small amount of the allergen, it does not cause an allergic reaction. Over the course of years, the amount of allergen that is injected increases, building up your body’s immunity to it. When the process is complete, you should either be much less sensitive, or sometimes completely immune.
What Is Getting an Allergy Shot Like?
The first step in the process of getting allergy shots is testing. Usually, the doctor will do a skin test, which is essentially scratching the allergen into your skin and observing how severe the reaction is. This tells the doctor exactly how much of the allergen you can receive in the shot without triggering an allergic reaction. Sometimes a blood allergy test is done instead of the skin test.
Once you are ready to receive the shot, there are two phases you go through:
- Build-up phase
- Maintenance phase
In the build-up phase, you receive one to three shots each week. This is the part of the process that builds up your resistance. The build-up phase usually lasts three to six months. Afterward, you enter the maintenance phase, which is used to solidify the resistance you have built up. The maintenance phase involves an injection about once a month. This phase lasts for three to five years. After every shot in either phase, you must remain in the doctor’s office for about half an hour.
Other NotesYou should always tell the doctor if you are feeling unwell before an injection. It is best for the allergy shot to be given while healthy to avoid any complications. Additionally, you should tell the doctor if you experience any unexpected symptoms after a shot. The doses may need to be adjusted to account for anything unexpected. Finally, you should not exercise immediately after an allergy shot. Your doctor, or an allergist in Warrenton, VA from Black & Kletz Allergy, will be able to answer any specific questions you have.