Allergy shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), have been used for more than 100 years and can provide long-lasting symptom relief. SCIT involves a series of shots containing small amounts of allergen into the fat under the skin. You will be required to wait in that office for 20 minutes after each injection to monitor you for a severe allergic reaction. (A rare occurrence, but it can happen).
Allergy Injections – The Steps
1. Vial test
The beginning of your treatment will start with a vial test. Vial tests are a way for us to confirm that the initial dilution is correct and your body will have an acceptable reaction to your mixture of antigens.
After a successful vial test you will begin the escalation phase of treatment. During this time your injections will increase with each visit. The beginning dose is 0.05mL and increases 0.05mL with each visit. The maximum dose that you will receive is 0.5mL. When you reach the maximum dose a new vial will be created for you that is a little stronger. This continues until the vial reaches full strength.
The number of visits needed to reach full strength varies from person to person. We all live busy lives and some weeks it is impossible to make it in to have your allergy shots. Don’t worry, we understand and will get you back on track in no time.
Additionally, some patients may need to increase at slower pace, repeating the same dose more than once may be required due to reactions like local swelling, itchiness or soreness at the injection site that are deemed more severe than normal. After a few repeated doses the reaction will go away because their body is getting use to the injections. That is what this “re-programming” is all about: getting your body use to antigens.
When all the antigens are at their full strength you have reached your “maintenance dose”. This will be a stable dose that you will receive for the duration of your treatment. This is when we will gradually diminish your allergy medications to a point where you’ll need them only when you are exposed to high levels of antigens.
After you begin responding well to your allergy shots we’ll begin to stretch out your injections.
The recommended schedule is:
- One injection every other week for one year
- One injection every three weeks for a year
- Once a month for one the last year.
Most patients stop their shots after 4-5 years, although some patients continue allergy shots for a longer period of time.