When you’re allergic to simple substances, such as pollen or pet danger, your quality of life plummets. Constantly sneezing, wheezing, or breaking out in rashes makes it hard for you to enjoy everyday activities or eat certain foods without worrying about triggering an attack.

At Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut in Manchester and Middletown, Connecticut, our expert doctors — Reinhard Kage, MD, PhD, and Barbara Kage, MD, FACR, RhMSUS — are dedicated to helping you improve or get rid of your allergies altogether. They recommend allergy shots as a safe, effective way to minimize your symptoms and restore your immune system to health.

Why do I have allergies?

Allergies are a sign of an overactive immune system. If you have allergies, your body overreacts to substances that are safe for most people, such as:

  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Dust
  • Insect stings
  • Mold
  • Cockroach dust
  • Latex, wool, and other materials
  • Certain foods

Your immune system identifies the substance as a threat, so it mounts an immune response in an attempt to get rid of it. Your immune system creates antibodies that then cause symptoms, including:

  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Itching or hives
  • Reddened skin
  • Swelling
  • Tingling
  • Nausea and vomiting

A severe form of reaction — anaphylaxis — may make it difficult to breathe or cause you to lose consciousness. Anaphylaxis is potentially deadly. If you’re at risk for anaphylaxis, we prescribe an epinephrine pen that you carry with you wherever you go.

How do allergy shots work?

Allergy shots are a type of immunotherapy. They work by exposing your body to a small amount of the substance that causes your allergic reaction, so that your body can learn to tolerate it. Our doctors inject the allergy shot into your upper arm.

What kind of allergies can be resolved with allergy shots?

Most allergies respond to allergy shots. However, they don’t work for food or medication allergies, or if you’re allergic to feathers. They also don’t resolve eczema or hives.

When you come to Rheumatology and Allergy Institute of Connecticut, we conduct a thorough physical examination as well as blood and allergy tests to be sure that allergy shots are right for you. If you’re not a candidate, or if you’d prefer another type of treatment, our doctors find the best solution for your needs.

How long before allergy shots improve my symptoms?

Allergy shots alter your body’s overactive immune response gradually. At first, our doctors give you just a small amount of allergen in your shots, so that it doesn’t trigger your symptoms.

Build-up phase

During the first 3-6 months, you get an allergy shot 1-3 times per week. We usually increase the dose by just a bit with each shot.

Maintenance phase

After your body learns to tolerate the allergen, you get maintenance shots about once a month for another 3-5 years. Your symptoms usually begin to improve within the first year of treatment, and then improve more dramatically in the second year. After 3-5 years, your body has been trained to tolerate the allergen, and you don’t need further allergy shots.

What are the risks of allergy shots?

Overall, allergy shots have a low risk for side effects or adverse reactions. A few people may have a severe allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis, which is why your allergy shot can be administered only by a medical professional. Most women, men, and children experience only mild symptoms or some swelling at the injection site.

Are allergy shots safe for kids?

Your child can get allergy shots if they’re at least 5 years old. Our doctors examine your child to be sure they’re healthy enough for allergy shots

Can I really get rid of my allergies?

If you’re a candidate for allergy shots, this effective immunotherapy helps your body build immunity to the allergen. Remember, after 3-5 years, you’re allergy-free!

To find out if allergy shots are right for you, call us today or request your appointment here on our website.

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