Allergy Immunotherapy in Maryland and Virginia
Allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots or allergy injections is one of the specific areas of allergic disease and disorders where an intervention guided by a well-trained and skilled allergist can lead to a long-term remission of your allergy symptoms and, in fact, cure of your condition. In Allergy and Asthma Clinical Centers in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, MD, we have the expertise and the tools to not only manage but to cure your allergy symptoms.
AIT - (allergy shots or allergy injections) is a series of subcutaneous injections introducing very small increasing doses of allergen(s) you were found to react to, into your system. By introducing the allergens gradually over period of time and by altered route (i.e. subcutaneous injection instead of inhalation or exposure to eyes) your immune system will become "re-educated". Namely, instead of inappropriate and excessive reaction, you start to tolerate the allergens which would otherwise trigger your symptoms. Unlike medications for allergies which allow for management of your allergies, the allergy shots provide real treatment of your condition and the symptoms substantially decrease, become minimal or are eliminated. Allergen immunotherapy is effective and is recommended for patients with allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis and stinging insect allergy. Allergy shots may also indirectly improve or eliminate oral allergy (food-pollen) syndrome (patients with seasonal allergies developing itchy/scratchy throat after eating certain raw fruits and vegetables – see our section on food allergies) and may improve atopic eczema. Allergen immunotherapy is not recommended and may be potentially dangerous if used for food allergies.
AIT decreases and ultimately prevents allergic reactions to common allergens including pollens, molds, animal dander and dust mites in sensitive individuals. Lots of patients who undergo allergen immunotherapy will see some improvement by the time they reach maintenance phase (3 - 6 months) with continued decrease in symptoms as they continue the treatment. Most patients have remarkable reduction of symptoms within the 12 months of therapy. After the proper course of immunotherapy (which lasts 3 – 5 years), the benefits are long-lasting. We are proud in Allergy and Asthma Clinical Centers to provide you with the highest level of expertize regarding indications for allergen immunotherapy, its administration (done conveniently on walk-in basis), and periodic re-evaluation by our Board Certified Allergist. We employ state of the art testing methods which are prerequisite to optimal composition of your individualized allergen extracts utilizing the best and standardized allergen materials available. While your primary care doctor, pediatrician or family practitioner can help you manage your allergy symptoms our expert team led by our allergy/immunology specialist can provide real treatment and cure.
How long are AIT shots given?
There are generally two phases to immunotherapy: a build-up phase and a maintenance phase:
Build-up phase - involves receiving injections with increasing amounts of your specific allergens 1 to 2 times a week. (More rapid build-up schedule may sometimes be used if appropriate). The duration of this phase depends on the frequency of the injections and how you tolerate the treatment. It generally ranges from 3 to 6 months (at a frequency of twice and once a week, respectively). The faster you go through your build-up phase, sooner you reach the next level and can expect relief of your allergy symptoms.
Maintenance phase - starts when the effective therapeutic dose is reached. The effective therapeutic dose is based on current guidelines, research and clinical studies published on immunotherapy. The effective maintenance dose may be individualized for a particular person based on their degree of sensitivity (how "allergic they are" to the allergens in their extract/vaccine) and their response to the immunotherapy build-up phase. Once the target maintenance dose is reached, the intervals between the allergy injections can be increased to once in 2 to every 4 weeks. However, the intervals need to be individualized to provide the best combination of effectiveness and safety for each person. Shorter intervals between allergy injections may lead to fewer reactions and greater benefit in some people while some individuals may do well receiving injections only once in four weeks. Your AACC Allergist and the staff will guide you through this process.
- Please inform the nursing staff if you have been diagnosed with a new medical condition or prescribed any new medications since your last visit. If any symptoms occur immediately or within hours of your injection, please inform the nurse before you receive your next injection.
Call us at 855-528-7348 for a free consultation to learn how we can assist you with all your allergy and asthma diagnosis and treatment in Maryland and Virginia.