Allergy Shots Part 4: What Results Can I Expect?

June 10, 2010

The main positive affects of allergy shots are not felt until maintenance is reached.  It is generally possible however to get an idea of how effectively a patient is becoming desensitized by noting how they respond to the allergy shots.  If a patient is able to tolerate increasing doses of allergens without having significant local reactions at the site of the injections and without having more generalized allergic reactions to the shots, then that patient is becoming desensitized.  Maintenance doses are large doses of allergen that would definitely result in significant allergic reactions if administered to an allergic person prior to undergoing the build up desensitization phase.

Each person clinically responds to allergy shots in a slightly different way.  The best case scenario is complete desensitization with elimination of the allergic response to the allergen.  The best example of this is a patient with tree pollen allergy who comes in for a monthly maintenance shot in early May and has no allergy symptoms and is on no medications and asks me if the tree pollen season has started.  I am always thrilled when this happens since by early May in New York, people with tree pollen allergy have usually already been suffering with symptoms for several weeks.  Some people have this kind of response.  Others have a less complete desensitization in that they still have some symptoms, though less severe than before starting allergy shots and more easily controlled with fewer medications.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict in advance how well a specific individual will respond.  However, it is important for the doctor to determine for sure that a person is truly allergic to a specific allergen and that the allergy is responsible for the symptoms BEFORE starting allergy shots.  If the allergy is not causing the symptoms, allergy shots for that allergy will not help at all.

Note: The content of this blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant as specific medical advice for a specific person.   If you have a medical problem, please contact your doctor.


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