Allergy Shots

What are Allergy Shots?

Allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a form of long-term treatment that decreases symptoms for many people with allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, conjunctivitis (eye allergy) or stinging insect allergy. Allergy shots decrease sensitivity to allergens and often lead to lasting relief of allergy symptoms even after treatment is stopped. This makes it a cost-effective, beneficial treatment approach for many people.

How Do Allergy Shots Work?

Allergy shots are the most natural way to treat allergic conditions. The injections only contain the purified allergens mixed with saline. By injecting gradually increasing doses of the allergen, the immune system develops tolerance and no longer exhibits an allergic reaction. Over time the patient can be cured of their allergy. There are two phases:

  • The Build-up Phase: This involves receiving injections with increasing amounts of the allergens about one to two times per week. The length of this phase depends upon how often the injections are received, but generally ranges from three to six months.
  • The Maintenance Phase: This begins once the effective dose is reached and, in most cases, lasts for three to five years. The effective maintenance dose depends on your level of allergen sensitivity and your response to the build-up phase. During the maintenance phase, there will be longer periods of time between treatments, ranging from two to four weeks. Your allergist / immunologist will decide what range is best for you.

For the first year, shots are administered once weekly in our office. Once the maintenance dose is achieved, this is spaced out to monthly. Some clinics allow patients to administer allergy shots at home. Based on published guidelines set forth by our international allergy societies, we feel that this practice is unsafe due to the potential for allergic reaction due to allergy shots (which is low, but present).

Who Are the Best Candidates for Allergy Shots?

If any of the following applies to you, then you may be a candidate for allergy shots:

  • If the medications to control your symptoms (i.e., antihistamines, decongestants), do not fully work.
  • If medications control your symptoms, but your symptoms flare back up every time you try to reduce your medications, so you are dependent on your medications.
  • If the medication used to control your symptoms produces too many side effects (such as sleepiness, nosebleeds).
  • If you have asthma triggered by allergies (i.e. if you have to use inhalers during the allergy season due to shortness of breath symptoms, etc).
  • If complications (i.e., sinus infections, ear infections) develop.
  • If you can’t effectively avoid things that trigger your allergies (pets, pollen).
  • If you would rather treat the actual problem rather than just use medications to control symptoms.
  • If you would rather not use medications daily.
  • If the cost of the medications is a burden, allergy shots are very cost effective compared to the use of daily prescription medications over several years.

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 (unfortunately) 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.

Why Should You Get Allergy Shots at an Allergy Clinic?

Our board-certified allergist received years of extensive training in formulating allergen immunotherapy shots, which is necessary to provide safe, but effective treatment of allergies. Knowledge of which allergens can be safely mixed together, which allergens cross react, and the appropriate doses of each allergen extracts to meet efficacy guidelines is paramount in ensuring that the 4-5 years you spend completing a course of allergen immunotherapy is worthwhile. Many different types of providers are now offering allergy shots and it is important to make sure that the provider you trust with this process has the knowledge and training necessary to allow you to get the maximum benefit from your allergy shots, while doing so in the safest manner possible.

Allergy Drops

Sublingual Immunotherapy is often referred to as allergy drops. The antigens used in allergy drops are the same ones that are used in allergy shots. They are just taken orally versus having them injected into the arm. Research has shown allergy drops to be less effective than allergy shots in the treatment of allergies and drops pose some additional challenges to patients who are allergic to multiple items. Currently, allergy drops are not approved by the FDA, though their usage is fairly common and completely legal. The lack of FDA approval does mean that insurance will not cover allergy drops and patients will be responsible for the cost. Even so, for some patients, allergy drops will still make sense and may be reasonable from a cost standpoint. We are glad to discuss the pros and cons of allergy drops vs shots so you can make an informed decision.

Advanced Allergy & Asthma offers a variety of treatment options for our patients, including allergy medications and allergy shots. We recommend you schedule an appointment with our allergist to find out what you’re allergic to and to review which treatment option makes the most sense for you.


We’d love to meet with you to address your allergy concerns.



Doctors Building, Suite 215
500 S. University Avenue
Little Rock, Arkansas 72205


Clinic Office: 501-420-1085
Fax: 501-420-1457


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