According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, nearly 8% of U.S. adults have hay fever and as many as 30% of people have allergic rhinitis. Nearly 9% of teenagers are living with a food allergy that makes them vulnerable to potentially deadly anaphylactic shock. Nearly 40% of children have had a dangerous allergic reaction to a food.
Allergy prevalence in industrialized countries like the U.S has been on the rise for more than 50 years. Some may say that allergies are a fact of life, but for many, they're persistent and brutal stealers of a quality life. Fortunately, allergy shots are an FDA-approved, effective way to get rid of allergies at the source. But how long does it take allergy shots to work? To answer that, we need to look at why allergy shots are so different from taking allergy medicine and what makes the shots so effective.
How does immunotherapy work?
Hint: It's not like taking the injection form of Allegra. Allergy shots work in a completely different manner compared to over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication. These shots don't mask symptoms or temporarily block immune responses; they can actually fix the cause of your allergies, training your immune system to more effectively manage its response to that allergen.
Unlike medications, immunotherapy is, therefore, completely personalized to your unique allergy. Similar to a vaccine, an allergy shot exposes your immune system to a very small amount of the substance, or substances, to which you're allergic. Your immune system responds by learning how to handle that allergen without overreacting. It's this over-reaction of the immune system to "harmless" substances that causes what we call allergies. An allergy-prone immune system is not unlike trying to bug bomb your whole house because of a single housefly instead of simply getting a flyswatter or catching the fly to let it outside.
For which types of allergies does immunotherapy work?
Allergy shots are effective for many kinds of allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, which mostly impact the nose and eyes. They include:
- Pet dander
- Seasonal allergies
- Mold/mildew oversensitivity
They can also be used to treat other types of allergies like those that cause hives, anaphylaxis, and allergic asthma such as:
- Insect sting allergies
- Food allergies
- Medication allergies
They may also help with some forms of dermatitis, in which the skin responds to being touched by an allergen.
How does Dr. Kumra customize your injection?
Allergy shots are a very precise science that involves a thorough test to determine to which specific substances you have an allergic reaction. Dr. Kumra applies suspected allergens one by one to sections of your skin and then measures your allergic response. He can then formulate an allergy shot to those specifications.
You receive these injections in two phases:
- Buildup phase. Over a period of three to six months, receive injections with increasing amounts of the substance to which you are allergic. This reduces the chance of an adverse reaction to the shot itself.
- Maintenance phase. Once the substance has built up in your system, you need injections less frequently to maintain your results.
How long does it take allergy shots to work?
Allergy shots have been around for around 50 years and have extensive research to back up their effectiveness. Because immunotherapy teaches your body to have a more measured response to the culprit allergen, the length of time varies based on the severity of the allergey and the pliability of your immune system to learn how to better manage the allergen.
Most patients experience a significant reduction in allergic symptoms within 12 months of initiating therapy, and by three years, many patients no longer have any sensitivity to the substance. Continued high-level exposure to the allergen during treatment may impact the efficacy of the treatment. For example, if you're getting immunotherapy because you're allergic to cats and you live with a cat, it may take longer for the immunotherapy to work, if at all.
Twelve months may seem like a long time when you're accustomed to taking pills that quickly mask symptoms, but the sooner you start immunotherapy, the sooner you can lose the pills and feel better every day. Book online today.