When will I begin to feel better?
Many patients begin to see results as early as 3-6 months or shortly after reaching maintenance. Your need for antihistamine drugs may decrease and your symptoms may become less severe. Some studies have even shown that allergy shots may prevent the onset of other allergies and the development of asthma. Also, the treatment has a long-standing effect after it is discontinued. The most recent findings show that the benefits of allergy shots are maintained years after completing treatment. For some people, symptom relief may persist indefinitely.
The key to success are be patient and adhere to your prescribed injection schedule. Your chances of seeing improvements in your allergy symptoms drastically increase the closer you follow your physician's treatment plan.
What are the possible side effects?
Although immunotherapy has been shown to be highly effective in treating the underlying cause of allergies, patients being treated may have side effects. Some individuals may experience itching and redness at the site of injection, while others may experience local swelling and soreness 8-12 hours after injection. Although these local reactions may produce discomfort, they are not serious. Serious systemic reactions can occur, but they are rare.
How do I know when I am having a reaction?
Some people experience reactions from their allergy shots. The most common reactions are classified as either “local” or “systemic”. A local reaction occurs in or around the site of the allergy injection and typically includes redness, swelling, itching and irritation. These types of reactions are expected and usually do not cause much concern. However, if a local reaction persists for more than a few hours or worsens it is important to inform the treatment staff. A systemic reaction will involve symptoms that occur in other parts of your body. This often resembles the type of allergy reaction that you may experience when you encounter the actual allergy trigger. Common systemic responses include sneezing, redness and itching, or hives. These types of reactions are rare, but can lead to more severe symptoms that need to be treated immediately. It is important to always inform your treatment staff if they ever occur.
What happens when I miss an appointment?
Immunotherapy is a commitment and can be hard to fit into an active schedule. In the case of a busy schedule, your physician will have a plan to manage conflicts. Missing one or two scheduled injections should not affect the long term outcome of your treatment. However, compliance is one of the most important factors for success. Missing numerous scheduled visits will only delay the potential benefits of your treatment. As a safety precaution, your treatment team may require that you repeat a previous dose to ensure that your tolerance to the allergens has not decreased. The closer you follow your treatment plan, the sooner you will experience benefits from your immunotherapy.
Indications for Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy is usually indicated in those patients where:
- Symptoms are moderate to severe and occur more than 2-3 months each year
- Symptomatic medications have been unsuccessful or have not led to significant improvement
- Allergens are not easily avoided
- The patient prefers immunotherapy over long-term drug treatment