What Are Asthma Shots
Asthma shots is a generic term used to describe treatments for asthma that fall under the category of immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy for allergies involves exposing you to a small amount of the substance that triggers a reaction in your immune system over time to help desensitize you to its effects.
Many asthmatics are triggered by exposure to allergens or irritants, so using immunotherapy against the most bothersome allergens can help reduce acute asthma attacks or flare-ups and prevent the need for emergency treatments.
Your immune system should then begin to make non-allergic antibodies against this allergen, preventing your body from mounting an immune response that causes allergic symptoms in the future.
The process of developing a tolerance to these allergens takes time, and immunotherapy doesnt work the same for every person. It depends on the response created by your individual immune system.
Is Environmental Allergy Immunotherapy Right For You
Talk with a board-certified allergist about how your allergy symptoms affect your activities and health, then consider whether immunotherapy might help more than allergen avoidance and/or medications.
Use the following questions to help guide you with your decision:
- Have reliable allergy tests identified that you are allergic to an allergen that can be successfully treated with immunotherapy?
- Is the allergen one that is difficult to avoid exposure to in everyday life?
- Do your symptoms consistently interfere with daily activities?
- Have your symptoms been difficult to control with allergy medications?
- Do you have related conditions such as eczema, sinusitis or asthma that complicate your allergies?
- Are you able to commit to the immunotherapy schedule?
Use with your allergist to determine if environmental allergen immunotherapy is right for you. Shared Decision Making encourages patients to take a more active role in their care. You work closely with doctors to select tests and treatments together. Its evidence-based and balances risks and results with a patients preferences and values.
Are Allergy Shots Expensive
Studies have shown that allergy shots are a very cost-effective way to treat allergies. They have been shown to reduce medication requirements and improve the quality of life in those patients who take them. They are the only long-term way to bring symptoms under control in those patients who have a significant allergic disease.
Dont suffer from untreated allergies. Schedule an appointment today with one of our board-certified allergists, and move towards a clearer tomorrow.
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How Can Parents Help
Doctors give allergy shots with needles that are smaller than those used for most childhood vaccinations, so they’re less painful. Still, for some kids a shot can seem scary. A parent’s positive and supportive attitude can help. Treatment goes much better when parents are confident and committed to the immunotherapy.
While getting a shot, your child can squeeze your hand, sing a song, watch a video, or use another distraction that will take the focus off the injection.
Understanding the benefits of allergy shots and how they work will help you and your child accept them as routine.
How Long Do Asthma Shots Last
A typical allergy shot schedule may look something like this:
- Buildup phase: You will initially receive a small dose of the allergen, which gradually increases, one or two times per week during the buildup phase. This phase generally lasts about three to six months.
- Maintenance phase: After approximately three to six months of weekly shots, you will achieve your maintenance dose, at which point the number of shots reduces from weekly to one dose every two to four weeks. The maintenance phase may last for three to five years.
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Whats The Average Cost Of Asthma And Allergy Shots
Recent studies indicate that, for most asthma patients treated with this therapy, immunotherapy is usually more cost-effective than treating the asthma attacks and flare-ups that would have occurred without the treatment.
Risks Of Receiving Allergy Shots For Asthma
Allergy shots for asthma do have risks. The most common side effects are redness and swelling at the site of the injection.
More severe reactions are less common. Very rarely, allergy injections can even lead to anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. This is why you should always get these shots in the presence of experts who can control any adverse reactions in the event of an asthma emergency. Your asthma doctor might want to keep you under observation for about 30 minutes after the injection to watch for any ill effects.
There is an new alternative to shots called Sublingual Immunotherapy or Ã¢â¬ÅSLITÃ¢â¬ï¿½ that is promising and now available. Instead of a shot, the medication is dissolved under your tongue. Ask your doctor if you are a candidate for SLIT.
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What Is Sublingual Immunotherapy
SLIT tablets approved by FDA treat grass and ragweed pollens and house dust mites. Each SLIT tablet covers one type of allergen.
Allergy tablets may not be the best option for people with multiple allergies as they only treat one at a time. Allergy shots can treat multiple allergens at once.
Also, if you have severe or uncontrolled asthma, you are not eligible to take the tablet.
How Long Does It Take For Asthma Injections To Work
It can take as long as a year to develop a therapeutic response to allergen immunotherapy. Your bodys reaction to immunotherapy injections is divided into two phases.
- The buildup phase. In this phase, youre injected with gradually increased amounts of allergen once or twice each week. This phase can last 3 to 6 months as your body builds antibodies to particular allergens.
- The maintenance phase. After youve reached a therapeutic level of immunity to a particular allergen, you need to continue treatment in order to keep this protection up. The dose of the allergen required during this phase depends on your individual immune response. Injections are less frequent during this phase, usually every 4 to 6 weeks, but the exact interval will be determined by your doctor.
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Why Are Allergy Shots Used
An allergy is when the body’s immune system overreacts to a usually harmless substance. Things that cause allergic reactions are called allergens. Common allergens include dust mites, molds, pollen, pets with fur or feathers, stinging insects, and foods.
The body reacts to the allergen by releasing chemicals, one of which is histamine. This release can cause symptoms such as wheezing, trouble breathing, coughing, a stuffy nose, and more. Some allergic reactions can be serious.
The best way to prevent or control allergy symptoms is to avoid allergens. Allergists look for causes of an allergic reaction with skin tests and blood tests. Based on the test results, they can recommend treatments, including medicines and ways to avoid allergens.
If these treatments don’t help, the allergist might recommend allergy shots.
Who Needs Asthma Shots
Individuals who have asthma attacks triggered by allergies to pollen, dust, pet dander, or another allergen for which immunotherapy is available may benefit from allergy shots.
Allergy shots should not be given to:
- Children under the age of 2
- People who have had a recent heart attack, unstable angina, or who are on beta-blockers
- Individuals who are incapable of reporting the side effects of a serious allergic reaction because they are nonverbal or otherwise unable to communicate
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Why It Is Done
Allergy shots may be used to help treat asthma if:footnote 2
- It is clear that you have asthma symptoms when exposed to an unavoidable allergen .
- Symptoms occur all year long or during a large part of the year.
- It is hard to control symptoms with medicine alone because medicines have not prevented symptoms, you’ve needed several medicines, or you do not want to take the medicine indefinitely.
How Common Is Anaphylaxis To Allergy Shots
Serious allergic reactions to allergy shots are rare. However, the procedure should be conducted in an allergists office equipped with epinephrine auto-injectors in case a serious reaction, or anaphylaxis, occurs. Always remain at the doctors office for a full 30 minutes following the injection and be aware that a reaction can happen hours later.
Anaphylaxis symptoms are difficulty breathing, tightness in the throat, hives or swelling. They may also include nausea, vomiting, fainting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. If these occur, immediately administer the epinephrine auto-injector and seek emergency treatment.
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What It’s Used For
Common allergic symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes or asthma attacks. Allergy symptoms are caused by your body’s reaction to a substance that is inhaled, touched or eaten. Allergens cause no symptoms in a non-allergic person, but in an allergic person who is sensitized to that antigen, an immune reaction against the allergen causes symptoms.
In allergic reactions, the body responds to the allergen in the same way it would respond to fight off infection by a parasite. The immune system recognizes the substance as foreign and activates an army of antibodies to eliminate the invader. The antibodies bind with the allergen and then trigger immune system cells to release chemicals, such as histamine. This release of histamine is what causes most allergy symptoms.
Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, cause the body to stop generating symptoms after exposure to certain allergens. Tiny amounts of the offending substance are injected under the skin with each shot. The shots stimulate the immune system just a little each time. Gradually, over weeks and months, the amount of allergen is increased.
This very constant, low-level exposure stimulates a different type of immune reaction against the allergen. This new pattern of immune reaction substitutes for and is less bothersome than a traditional allergic response.
Avoidance of foods to which you are allergic currently the best strategy for preventing food allergy reactions.
Which Allergies Can Allergy Shots Treat
Allergy shots cant treat all allergies, but they can help those with allergies to several different pollens including grasses, trees, and weeds. They are also beneficial for molds, house dust mites, cockroaches and pet dander.
If you have general insect allergies, including an allergy to yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, bees or fire ant, allergy shots could also be a good option.
If you struggle with seasonal allergies, talk to your doctor or allergist about immunotherapy injections.
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How Is Immunotherapy Different From Other Types Of Allergy Treatment
Immunotherapy is a process that trains the immune system to build a tolerance to allergens over time. It is the only treatment available that actually reduces an allergic person’s sensitivity to allergy triggers. Unlike medications, which suppress symptoms but do not stop the underlying allergic reaction, immunotherapy builds immunity that counteracts and reduces the allergic reaction itself. It is therefore a more “natural” solution to the allergy problem. In a sense, allergy shots are like a continuous vaccine protecting the body from airborne allergic triggers.
A distinct advantage of this type of preventive treatment is that there is a lasting benefit, even long after immunotherapy has been stopped. This is unlike anything else used for the treatment of allergies at this time. For example, though medications can reduce symptoms, once the medications are stopped, the symptoms return. On the other hand, immunotherapy builds a tolerance that often remains for years after stopping shots.
What To Expect From Allergy Shots
Allergy shots are typically given in a healthcare provider’s office or clinic that specializes in allergic diseases.
As a safety precaution, most patients are given a prescription for emergency rescue medications such as epinephrine before starting treatment in case a serious allergic reaction occurs.
With allergy shots, very small amounts of an allergen are initially given once or twice a week. Over time, the amount of allergen injected is gradually increased. This helps your immune system become less reactive to that particular substance. Some people may need to continue treatment for several years.
It’s usually required that you remain in the clinic for about a half hour after you receive your shot in case you experience an allergic reaction.
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Explaining Rush Allergy Shots
Rush Immunotherapy, or Rush Allergy Shots, shortens the build-up phase of allergy shots. Typically this phase lasts 3-6 months however, with Rush, the build-up phase is just 1 day. Rapid desensitization is the first step of treatment for patients to treat their inhalant allergens on a more convenient schedule. After completing the series of shots during the appointment, the patient will have reached the highest tolerated dose of allergens, called maintenance. After the Rush appointment, shots will be given once a week and decrease down to once a month or less over a three year period.
Allergen immunotherapy is over 100 years old, and Rush immunotherapy has been around since the mid-1990s. Rush allergy shots are used to treat pollen, mold, and pet dander allergies. Allergy shots of any type have the possibility of adverse reactions the risk is slightly higher with the Rush schedule, which is why we require pre-medicating before the procedure. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, research shows that accelerated programs, such as Rush and Cluster, are safe and effective options for many patients.
How Often Do I Need Allergy Shots
At the beginning, allergy shots are usually administered two to three times per week. With this build-up, improvement can occur within three to four months and will usually be at its full benefit within the first year to 18 months. In a typical treatment schedule, shots are tapered to weekly intervals once the maintenance phase is reached then to every two weeks at 12 months, then every three to four weeks after 18 to 24 months. Most people can come off their shots after about three years. Your shot schedule is individualized by the board-certified allergy and asthma specialist these specialists are the only ones who receive extensive training in this procedure.
Family Allergy & Asthma also offers two accelerated approaches, cluster allergy shots, which take 4-9 weeks and Rush allergy shots, which requires 1 full day appointment. You should always consult with an allergy and asthma specialist before beginning a series of allergy shots.
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How Are Slit Tablets Administered At Home
When taking a SLIT tablet at home, you place the tablet under the tongue. Then you old it there without swallowing for at least a minute. After taking the tablet, you cant eat or drink anything for at least five minutes.
The tablet is highly allergenic, so its important to wash your hands after taking it. If you rub your eyes immediately after handling the tablet, you could risk an allergic reaction.
You need to be diligent about taking it on a daily basis. If you happen to miss too many days in a row, you need to contact your doctor. It can be dangerous to restart immunotherapy on your own.
If youre a parent giving your child a SLIT tablet at home, make sure you watch the child for 30 minutes after giving the tablet. Keep epinephrine auto-injectors close by in case of a severe allergic reaction.
How Frequently Do You Need To Get Asthma Shots
How often you receive immunotherapy for asthma will be determined by your doctor, but shots are often given once or twice a week in the buildup phase, and once every 4 to 6 weeks in the maintenance phase.
It can take several months to reach a maintenance level. Maintenance treatment usually continues for 3 to 5 years. After that, you may have developed the desired immunity to your allergens and no longer need the treatment.
The most common side effect is a local reaction to the injections given with immunotherapy. This can appear as:
In some cases, you may develop systemic effects similar to your standard allergic reaction after a shot. This
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Getting The Most Out Of Treatment
We do have a number of patients who come to our clinic either actively receiving shots from another physician or having been on allergy shots in the past who remain symptomatic. Some have even been on shots for 20-30 years or longer! This is usually explained by the fact that the amount of allergen extract in the shot is insufficient or by the fact that their tests were incorrectly interpreted in the first place and they were never really allergic at all! Patients should ask their shot provider if the contents of their shots and the schedules by which they are administered meet current AAAAI/ACAAI guidelines. Also, patients should be aware of what is actually contained in their allergy shots. The use of generic mixes of allergens is very popular and can be potentially harmful if the patient is not allergic to each component of the mix.Shot providers should be able and willing to discuss the contents of the shot, the amounts of each allergen, the schedule by which the shots will be administered, and how this plan follows the guidelines for allergen immunotherapy.
How Will The Decision Be Made Regarding The Length Of Treatment
Each individual is unique however, in general, the longer the course of allergen immunotherapy, the less likely there will be a relapse of allergy symptoms when the shots are stopped. Most patients are able to achieve lifelong immunity that blocks their allergic sensitivities after about a 5-year course of monthly maintenance injections. A gradual “weaning” off of immunotherapy may be helpful in determining whether you are ready to completely discontinue your injections.
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