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 "Allergy Shot"

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Allergy Immunization Shot

Treatments of allergies are no more secretive than any other aspect of medicine. Since allergy shots have been around for almost 80 years, much is known about them. We now know how and why they work. We also know what is the best material to use and the best way to treat patients.

Allergies occur when a person reacts adversely to something most people tolerate. For example, most of us can eat eggs, but a certain group of allergic individuals have trouble if they eat eggs. This trouble can be hives, rashes, swelling of the tongue and mouth, asthma, or even shock, and very rarely, death.

Allergies can be from things we eat, things we breathe, and things we touch. The simplest approach is to avoid what makes us sick. That is the best treatmentódon't eat eggs, in our example.

What Allergy Shots Do

About 40 years ago or so, a substance called immunoglobulin E (IgE) was discovered. When you have too much of it, it reacts with your allergic foe (cat, dog, ragweed pollen.) The mast cells contain little packets of trouble that are the cause of allergic symptoms. Some of these substances are histamine, leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and other substances that in the end, make your nose run, your eyes itch, your lungs wheeze, and even skin crawl. When we want something to really make the allergies go and stay away, we are talking about allergy shots.

Allergy shots begin with small doses and gradually increase in strength until a maximum or a maintenance dose is reached. Patients start to feel better as the maintenance dose is reached. It varies from patient to patient and, therefore, your allergy specialist cannot tell you exactly what is the dose when symptom relief occurs. The most commonly used schedule is injections given once or twice a week. Sometimes injection rates are accelerated, or evenly dramatically accelerated, and immunotherapy can be accomplished in a matter of days. This is called rush immunotherapy and is something you may want to discuss with the allergy specialist.

Drew Voight

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  Recommended Sites
Organization provides free information and education on asthma and allergies, as well as links to regional AAFA groups.

Food Allergy.Org
Nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing about a clearer understanding of the issues surrounding food allergies and providing helpful resources.

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