Allergy shots, known also as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) provide very effective treatment for allergies, asthma, and often atopic dermatitis. Most patients on SCIT can stop allergy medicines and many can reduce or even stop asthma medicines. It can therefore cure nose and eye allergies, and sometimes skin allergies and asthma. Additionally, it can prevent you from developing these conditions.
WHAT IS SCIT?
Many people think allergy shots are like a vaccine, but this is incorrect. In SCIT, you receive natural proteins found in the environment like trees grasses weeds and molds, while vaccines are usually altered bacteria or viruses. Also the allergy shot is given just below the skin surface, while a vaccine is given in the muscle (which hurts). After testing, we use your allergic response to these allergens to create a ‘custom shot recipe’ for you.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
We gradually increase the dose of these allergic proteins. This slowly allows your immune system to create a tolerance to these substances. This tolerance prevents the development of allergic reactions when exposed to them. Studies and our experience show these shots often provide lifelong prevention of allergic symptoms after completing the program.
There are three ways to begin allergy shots.
- TRADITIONAL SCIT starts with small but increasing doses of shots once or twice
weekly until you reach your target or “maintenance dose”. This is the dose that controls your symptoms. Soon after reaching maintenance dose, we decrease shot frequency to two-week intervals. In the third year we decrease to three-week intervals, and finally four-week intervals in the final year. We generally stop shots after four years of therapy.
As shots can cause life threatening reactions, they must be given in a physician office with a 30 minute waiting period. If a shot reaction occurs, we can treat in the office.
- CLUSTER IMMUNOTHERAPY is an accelerated version of traditional SCIT. While SCIT usually requires 5-7 months of weekly shots to reach full dosing, cluster immunotherapy allows you to usually reach this dosing in 2 months! You pretreat with oral steroids and antihistamines to minimize the chance of a shot reaction. The first 3 sessions last 90 minutes. At each visit you receive a round of shots every 30 minutes. At the last 5 visits, you stay for 60 minutes, receiving your shots at 30 minute intervals.
Afterwards you start weekly shots.
- RUSH IMMUNOTHERAPY is another accelerated version of traditional SCIT. Rush allows you to reach maintenance dose in as little as one month (for those with milder allergies)! You pretreat with oral steroids and antihistamines to minimize the chance of a shot reaction. You have a private room with leather recliner, DVD player, TV with gaming, and wireless Internet. You spend 5-8 hours in the office (depending on insurance rules) and receive 5-8 shots over 4-6 hour period. Due to the chance of a delayed shot reaction, we observe you for two hours after the last shot. Afterwards you start weekly shots.