Allergy Shots Immunotherapy
At Allergy & Asthma Center our board-certified allergists provide allergen immunotherapy in Atlanta, GA and all surrounding areas. Our experienced doctors and medical staff will help choose the right treatment plan for you. For more information, please call us or book an appointment online. We serve patients from Lawrenceville GA, Atlanta GA, Conyers GA, Suwanee GA, Duluth GA, Grayson GA, Decatur GA, Brookhaven GA, Lithonia GA and Covington GA.
Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States that affect more than fifty million people each year. Allergies occur when your body overreacts to an environmental allergen by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies can release chemicals such as histamine and other mediators that cause symptoms of irritation or inflammation in the nose, lungs, throat, or skin. This inflammatory response can cause sinus symptoms (sneezing, runny nose or congestion) as well as asthma attacks by causing mucus secretion and bronchospasm in the airways. Allergy specialists often treat these symptoms with medications when the symptoms are mild. For more severe cases, allergen immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots) may be utilized. Allergy shots are a clinically effective treatment that was discovered by physicians Leonard Noon and John Freeman in 1911 and has been used for over one hundred years to help reduce or eliminate symptoms by targeting the underlying cause of allergies.
Allergy immunotherapy changes the immune response to an environmental allergen by inducing immune tolerance through desensitization. Immunotherapy stimulates the cells to produce immunoglobulin G (IgG) instead of IgE. By stimulating IgG production these blocking antibodies help prevent the allergic response. Immunotherapy is most effectively done through subcutaneous injections. Once allergen triggers are identified through allergy testing, then immunotherapy can be initiated by a board-certified allergist. There are two treatment phases: a build-up phase and a maintenance phase. The build-up phase is done through individual injections that are given once or twice a week. The patient slowly receives increasing amounts of allergen to build tolerance. Once a therapeutic dose is achieved, then the patient begins a maintenance phase. The maintenance dose depends on the level of allergen sensitivity and response to the build-up phase. During the maintenance phase, there will be longer periods of time between injections, ranging from two to four weeks. Symptom relief is usually noticed in the build-up phase but it may take as long as the six months on the maintenance dose to notice an improvement. The recommended maintenance therapy is three to five years. Most patients who complete the treatment have long-term improvement after desensitization is discontinued that lasts many years and may be lifelong.
Allergy immunotherapy injections are approved by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and usually administered by physicians with specialized training. The injections are administered in an office that is supervised by a board-certified allergist equipped with proper staff and equipment to identify and treat adverse reactions to allergy injections. Because allergy injections contain substances to which the patient is allergic, there is a small of an allergic reaction. The most common reactions are localized reactions such as minor swelling, redness, and itching. A more severe systemic reaction is rare, but can occur and may involve multiple organ systems. These reactions may include generalized redness, itching, sneezing, runny nose, hives, coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. Although very serious allergic reactions have been described in the medical literature, including a drop in blood pressure (shock) and even death, these are considered extremely rare.
Both children and adults can receive allergy shots. A board-certified allergist can help determine whether or not immunotherapy is a good treatment option for you. For an appointment with one of our Board Certified Pediatric or Adult Allergy Specialists please call us or make your appointment online.