How Do Injectable Allergy Shots Work?

May 01, 2023
Spring is here, and for millions of people, that means uncomfortable allergy symptoms. Injectable allergy shots help your body become less sensitive to allergens, so you can avoid potentially serious allergy flare-ups. Here’s how they work.

The sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, allergies affect about a third of Americans, with symptoms that range in severity from mildly annoying to severe and life-threatening. 

While there’s no cure for allergies, we can help you manage them, and for many people, allergy shots play a key role.

At CN Internal Medicine, our team offers allergy therapy at our offices in Alexandria and Lansdowne, Virginia, including allergy shots to reduce or even prevent symptoms. Here’s how allergy shots work and how they could help you relieve your symptoms.

Quick facts about allergy shots

Allergies can appear at any age, developing when your immune system overreacts to substances that normally wouldn’t cause a reaction in someone who isn’t allergic to them. These substances are called allergens, and some of the most common ones include:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Certain types of food

When you come in contact with an allergen, your immune system recognizes it as a potential threat, producing chemicals designed to fight off the perceived danger. These substances are what cause symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, or hives.

Sometimes called immunotherapy, allergy shots help people become less sensitive to their allergic triggers. During immunotherapy, we inject tiny amounts of the allergen into your body. We gradually increase the amount (or dose) over time to help your body develop a tolerance for the substance.

What to expect during your treatment

Before prescribing immunotherapy, we perform allergy testing to identify your specific triggers. Once we identify what’s causing your allergic reaction, we tailor your allergy shots to help reduce and, ideally, eliminate your allergic symptoms.

Most of our patients benefit from injections once or twice weekly for several months. During this period, we gradually ramp up the dose of the allergen until we reach an optimal dose. 

After each injection, you might have mild symptoms, like itching or redness around the injection site, but these typically subside within a couple of hours.

After this initial phase, you still need shots, but usually only once every few weeks. This is the maintenance phase of treatment, and it may last for months or years, depending on the severity of your allergic reaction and other factors. For very long therapies, injections may be far less frequent.

Find out if allergy shots are right for you

Allergy shots can be especially beneficial for people with severe allergies, including allergies to bees and other insects, and for people who have trouble avoiding their triggers. They can also be a good choice for people who need to take a lot of allergy medicine on a regular basis to control their reactions.

To learn more about allergy shots and how they can help you, call 703-212-9190 or request an appointment online or over the phone with our team at CN Internal Medicine today. Or click here to book a visit.