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Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)

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This information was reviewed and approved by Ronina A. Covar, MD (6/1/2017).

If your child is allergic, actions to avoid exposure are recommended whenever possible. This can be difficult if your child is allergic to pollens, molds and dust mites.

Allergy medications, including prescription nasal sprays and antihistamines, can help control symptoms. If actions to avoid exposure and medications are not effective, your doctor might consider allergy shots. Allergy immunotherapy have been shown to reduce symptoms associated with pollens, certain molds, dust mites and animal dander. Immunotherapy may be allergy shots or sublingual (under the tongue).

Allergy shots should be given in the doctor’s office, where staff is able to treat life-threatening reactions. Allergy shots consist of a series of shots with solutions containing the allergens. The objective is to reduce your child’s sensitivity, which decreases symptoms. Treatment usually begins with shots of a weak solution given once or twice a week, with the strength gradually increasing. When the strongest dosage is reached, the shots are usually given on a monthly basis.

Allergy shots do not produce immediate results. A period of six months to one year may be required before improvement is seen. A normal course of treatment for the shots is three to five years, although some children with asthma may benefit from a longer course. Not everyone responds well to this treatment.

Sublingual immunotherapy, also called sublingual drops or SLIT, is another option. Immunotherapy is given as a tablet or drop routinely at home for at least three years. This may be considered for grass and ragweed allergies.

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