Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)
Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and asthma are increasing yearly and they already affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Allergies have been shown to have a significant impact on quality of life, as well as productivity at school and work.
While medications like antihistamines and steroids may relieve symptoms, they are only a band aid. These medications do nothing to decrease your underlying allergies.
What are allergy shots?
Simply put: allergy shots (immunotherapy) treat the problem, while medication only treats the symptoms. Allergy shots are a more natural way to treat allergies, as opposed to steroid sprays and anti-histamines. Allergy shots consist of the administration of increasing doses of the allergens (such as pet dander, pollen, dust, mold, etc.) that trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.
Allergy shots result in the body becoming tolerant to your allergic triggers. This tolerance leads to a decrease of the inflammation that causes allergy and asthma symptoms. This decrease of inflammation, and the allergy/asthma symptoms they cause, can lower your need for medications.
Do allergy shots really work?
Allergy shots are not only helpful in relieving your hay fever/asthma symptoms while you are receiving the shots, but studies show allergy shots have long term benefits, even after the shots are stopped.
A study in 2006 has shown that over 10 years after stopping allergy shots, patients still had significantly less hay fever symptoms compared to those who did not receive shots. They were also significantly less likely to develop new allergies.
The practice parameters of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, which governs best practices for all allergists across the nation, states:
“Numerous well-designed controlled studies demonstrate that allergen immunotherapy is efficacious in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic asthma and stinging insect hypersensitivity. Randomized controlled studies showed that allergen immunotherapy prevents the development of asthma in subjects with allergic rhinitis”
Can allergy shots prevent asthma?
Studies show that up to 60% of asthmatics have allergies. These allergies can be triggers for asthma. Treating your allergies is often an effective way to lower your need for asthma medication, decrease asthma symptoms, and improve your quality of life.
A landmark 10 year research study published in 2007, showed that allergy shots can prevent the development of asthma. The study placed half of their patients on allergy shots for 3 years, while the others did not receive allergy shots. These patients were monitored for years after stopping allergy shots. There was an almost 50% reduction in the likelihood of developing asthma in those who received allergy shots, compared to those who did not receive allergy shots.
Clinical and Translational Allergy. Allergen specific immunotherapy provides immediate, long term, and preventative clinical effects in children and adults: the effects of immunotherapy can be categorized by level of benefit-the centenary of allergen specific subcutaneous immunotherapy. Jacobsen, L. April 2012.
Allergy. Twelve year follow up after discontinuation of preseasonal grass pollen immunotherapy in childhood. Eng, P. February 2006.
Allergy. Specific immunotherapy has long term preventative effect of seasonal and perennial asthma: 10 year follow up on the PAT study. Jacobsen, L. August 2007.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America
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