Allergy Shots Work to Ease Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

Health Minute

While many people are thrilled when winter weather starts to fade, others dread the health issues springtime brings with it. 

Seasonal allergies can cause symptoms including itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, skin rash, headache, and runny nose, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and ImmunologyOff Site Icon (ACAAI).

Allergy shots – also known as allergen immunotherapy - are one of the best forms of long-term treatment to help people with allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, eye allergy (conjunctivitis) decrease their symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and ImmunologyOff Site Icon (AAAAI).

By using allergy shots, people can decrease their sensitivity to seasonal allergens, according to the AAAAI. And, in many cases, they lead to long-lasting relief from these allergens even after a person has stopped treatment.

Like vaccines, allergy shots put a regulated amount of an allergen into your body. By gradually increasing the doses, your body develops immunity – a tolerance – to the allergen, according to the AAAAI.

For allergy shots to be effective, they are typically given in two phases: the build-up phase and the maintenance phase, according to the AAAAI, which describes each phase as follows:

  • Build-up phase – Once or twice a week, injections with increasing amounts of allergens are given. This phase typically lasts two to three months. 
  • Maintenance phase – Eventually each person can get to their effective maintenance dose of allergy shots. Once that is reached, there will be a longer amount of time between each injection treatment, typically between two and four weeks.

Some people notice their symptoms decreasing during the build-up phase, but for others, it can take up to a year of the maintenance phase to notice a difference, according to the AAAAI.

People who make progress with allergy shots usually continue the maintenance treatment for three to five years. The AAAAI says that the length of treatment with allergy shots and the dose of the allergen given both can determine how effective the treatment is overall.

Though allergy shots aren’t a seasonal allergy solution for everyone, they are a helpful solution for the many people who follow through with their treatment plan.

For more information about the timing of allergy shots, talk with your doctor or find a physician