Healthy Living

Are Allergy Shots Effective?

Are Allergy Shots Effective?

Key Takeaways

  • Allergy shots introduce trace amounts of allergens to stimulate the immune system to prevent allergic reactions.
  • It can be effective in preventing allergic reactions in the future.
  • Allergy shots help to develop immunity to a particular allergen.

An allergy shot, or allergen immunotherapy, is a method in which small amounts of allergens are introduced to the body to stimulate the immune system against a specific allergen, without causing a full allergic reaction. This allows the body to get used to the specific allergen to prepare the body if it is exposed to the allergen. The shot does not cause a severe reaction, and it causes few symptoms. Thus, it is a way to reduce the sensitivity of the body towards allergens in order to provide long-term relief from allergic responses. 

What benefits do these allergy shots provide? It can usually help people with allergic rhinitis, asthma, or conjunctivitis. It can be given to children older than 5-years-old, as well as adults. These shots calm reactions to pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and mold. While considering these shots for elderly people, it is important to discuss their health conditions with a physician before receiving the shots. The decision to take allergy shots is based on certain facts, like severity of symptoms and a person's ability to spend time and money to receive them.

Most of the allergy shots have shown a decrease in allergic responses considerably. It is found to be effective in preventing new allergic responses in the future. Moreover, it prevents the progress of allergic responses, like allergic rhinitis, from developing into asthma. In most cases, the effectiveness of the treatment depends on certain factors, like length of the treatment and the dose of allergen given. For some people, the relief from allergic reactions are found to be long-term. In other cases, the responses relapse after stopping the treatment. Inadequate doses of allergens in the shot, high levels of allergens in the environment, and exposure to non-allergic triggers, like smoke, may sensitize the body towards the allergen again.

Very few risks have been reported with allergy shots. Redness and swelling may be seen at the injection site for a few hours after the shot has been received. Some people may experience sneezing, nasal congestion, and rashes as a reaction to the shot. If there are any serious reactions to the shot, an individual should immediately seek the attention of a healthcare provider. Some warning signs include wheezing, tightness of the chest, nausea, and dizziness.

Allergy shots are similar to a vaccine, and help to develop immunity to a particular allergen.