Allergy Immunotherapy Program

Improve life with less symptoms and medications

immunotherapy

What is allergy immunotherapy?

Allergy immunotherapy, also known as IT, has been an effective and life-changing treatment option for patients that suffer from allergies for over one hundred years. With IT, many patients can experience a life without allergy symptoms such as stuffy noses, itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing.

While medications such as antihistamines and nasal sprays can mask symptoms, allergy IT treats the underlying problem that is causing those symptoms in the first place.

Patients who complete an allergy IT program often report an improved quality of life as they can enjoy time outdoors for the first time, adopt the dog they’ve always wanted, dramatically improve asthma control, or get rid of recurring sinus infections once and for all.

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medicine bottlesDr. Shah and staff member

How allergy-immunotherapy works

Introduce allergen micro-doses

Whenever pollen season hits, a person with allergies experiences a significant immune system response. When they breathe pollen in, their immune system overreacts and attacks the pollen labeling it as a “foreign invader”. An inflammatory immune system response leads to wheezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rashes that many patients experience. By gradually introducing diluted amounts of allergens through small shots in the back of your arms, we can teach your body’s immune system to not react to these allergens over time.

Customize your treatment plan

After administering your skin test, your provider will ship the results to a lab where a unique serum is made just for you. The lab will then send the serum back to our office, and our skilled technicians will concoct your vials. These vials will be ready for you when you arrive for your first shot appointment. At this visit, your provider will give you your first injections, go over all of your treatment options, and decide the best plan for you.

Allergy immunotherapy treatment options

1.

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Traditional Immunotherapy

This treatment consists of weekly walk-in injections that can take up to a year to complete. For locations open multiple days each week, you may receive 2 shots per week, as long as there are 48 hours between injections. In 6-12 months, you will complete the build-up phase and begin the maintenance phase.

2.

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Rush Immunotherapy*

A one-time, 5 hour appointment is scheduled for you to receive 6 rounds of injections every 25-30 minutes. This treatment mimics approximately 6 months of traditional immunotherapy. Following this visit, you will complete 6 months of weekly walk-in injections. You may receive 2 shots per week, as long as there are 48 hours between injections. After 3-6 months, you will complete the build-up phase and will visit with a provider to begin the maintenance phase.

3.

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Cluster Immunotherapy*

Your provider will schedule weekly appointments over the course of 8 weeks. Weeks 1-3 are three hour appointments, weeks 4-7 are two hour appointments, and week 8 is a one hour appointment. For each appointment, you will receive several rounds of injections. Once you have reached the 8th appointment, you will visit with a provider to begin the maintenance phase.

*You must be approved by a provider to undergo rush and cluster immunotherapy. Treatment times may vary if your treatment is interrupted due to tardiness, adverse reactions, pregnancy, or illness.

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Part 1: Build Up Phase

Your Allergy Immunotherapy Program is made up of 2 phases, a build up phase and a maintenance phase. In the build up phase, your provider will gradually increase your allergen dosage over time to build an immune system that will resist an allergic reaction.

The build-up phase consists of 3 different treatment options: traditional immunotherapy, rush immunotherapy, and cluster immunotherapy. Rush and cluster immunotherapy are accelerated programs that are unique offerings specific to Premier Allergy & Asthma. At your first skin test appointment, you can discuss with your health care provider which option is right for you

Part 2: Maintenance Phase

The maintenance phase is the second half of your allergy immunotherapy program. After your provider gradually increases your allergen dosage over time in the build up phase, you will enter into the maintenance phase. At this point, you will receive doses less frequently, eventually only receiving them once a month. This phase is recommended for at least 3 years. 

At this point in the allergy immunotherapy process, most patients are feeling significant symptom relief. You will now receive injections every other week for 6 months, followed by monthly injections for the duration of your treatment.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if the skin test shows I have allergies?

If you have tried allergy medications without success or want to reduce your reliance on medications to treat your symptoms, allergy immunotherapy may be the right fit for you. Allergy IT can be used to successfully treat: an itchy, sneezy, congested nose, watery, irritated eyes, coughing, wheezing, sinus pressure and recurrent infections, or itchy, dry rashes caused by allergen exposure.

Is allergy immunotherapy safe?

Allergy IT is very safe. Approximately 70 percent of patients may experience a localized reaction where the injection is given in the back of the arm. This may include redness, itching, and swelling at the injection site. Our team can help you manage these symptoms with anti-itch lotions and ice.

There is a less than 1 percent chance that you will experience a severe allergic reaction from allergy shots. Therefore, we have a mandatory waiting period after your injections (25 minutes for walk-in shots) to ensure your safety. If you feel any different after your shot, let a staff member know. We are trained to promptly assess and treat any allergic reaction.

Are allergy shots safe for kids?

Allergy shots are a safe and effective treatment for children. The benefits of allergy immunotherapy shots can even last through adulthood. In fact, studies indicate that starting allergy shots at a young age prevents the development of new allergies and allergic asthma later in life. Traditional immunotherapy is typically started around the age of 6, and accelerated immunotherapy is an option for kids ages 12 and up.

Can I start allergy shots if I am pregnant?

Allergy shots cannot be initiated during pregnancy due to the small risk of an allergic reaction. If you become pregnant while on the build-up phase, we will halt your allergy shot dose until after you have given birth. If you become pregnant during the maintenance phase, it is safe to continue allergy shots.

How long will I be on shots?

While treatment times vary from patient to patient, a typical allergy immunotherapy shot program can last 3-5 years. Typically, rush and cluster programs will shorten the time spent on allergy shots. Once you reach the maintenance phase, your provider will recommend that you continue therapy for at least 3 years to reduce the likelihood of allergy symptoms returning.

How effective are shots?

The majority of patients experience relief when on allergy immunotherapy and should see a reduced reliance on allergy medications over time. Studies have shown that patients who have completed at least 3 years of the maintenance phase can experience lasting relief after allergy shots are no longer administered.

What do I do if I miss a shot?

We know that life happens, and you may take a vacation or get sick during our allergy immunotherapy shot program. For this reason, we offer a grace period on shots. During the build-up phase, you have up to 14 days to receive an allergy shot without setbacks. While in the maintenance phase, patients receiving biweekly shots have up to 21 days without encountering a delay in treatment times. Patients getting shots each month have a 42 day grace period. If it has been over 60 days since your last shot, a follow-up appointment will be encouraged to discuss getting you back on track. Feel free to call our office at (614) 482-3980 if you have any questions regarding your shot schedule.

What if it has been a year since I was last skin tested and I want to start shots?

If you have tried allergy medications without success or want to reduce your reliance on medications to treat your symptoms, allergy immunotherapy may be the right fit for you. Allergy IT can be used to successfully treat: an itchy, sneezy, congested nose, watery, irritated eyes, coughing, wheezing, sinus pressure and recurrent infections, or itchy, dry rashes caused by allergen exposure.