Q: I have terrible allergies in the spring and summer and was told allergy shots might provide relief. How do they work?
A: Allergy shots work like a vaccine. Your body responds to injected amounts of a particular allergen (pollen, mold, pet dander, etc.), given in gradually increasing doses, by developing immunity or tolerance to the allergen. The injections help your body stop reacting to your environment, thereby decreasing the allergy symptoms and the need for allergy medications.
There are two phases:
* Build-up phase. This phase involves receiving injections with increasing amounts of the allergen one to two times per week. The length of this phase depends upon how often the injections are received but generally ranges from three to six months.
* Maintenance phase. The effective maintenance dose depends on your level of allergen sensitivity and your response to the build-up phase. During the maintenance phase, there will be longer periods of time between treatments, ranging from two to four weeks. Your allergist/immunologist will decide what range is best for you.
Allergy shots are not only a cost-effective, all-natural cure for allergies, but they also can prevent asthma in more than 50 percent of patients if started early in childhood.
— Dr. Marc W. Cromie, Chattanooga Allergy Clinic; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society