Allergy Shots Vs. Allergy Drops

allergy shots

A Complete Overview of Storms Allergy Treatment Therapies

The William Storms Allergy Clinic continually researches all aspects of Allergy Therapy. We currently offer Allergy Shots (aka Allergy Injection Therapy) and Allergy Drops (SLIT).

If you’re searching for locations or Allergy Therapy Clinics in Denver, Colorado Springs or anywhere in Colorado, The William Storms Allergy Clinic has helped many patients achieve results with our Allergy Therapies.

Here are some common questions and answers we get regarding Allergy Injection Therapy and Allergy Drops or (SLIT). Feel free to reach out to us directly if you have any other questions at 866-615-3885.

Allergy Shots (aka Allergy Injection Therapy)

1. How do allergy injections work?

Allergy injections (hyposensitization or immunotherapy) are similar to a vaccine injection. This treatment causes the patient’s body to build protective immunity to your allergies over time.

The allergy treatment extracts (antigens or vaccines) are prepared from the substances to which the patient has been shown to be allergic. The injections can be given for pollens, dust, molds, and animal dander, but not for foods or chemicals.

2. How effective are allergy injections?

Significant relief can be expected. Timing is important, that is why we recommend weekly injections for consistency. The most common causes of a poor result are irregularity in receiving allergy injections or the failure to rid the household environment of allergens such as animals or dust.

3. Can reactions occur on allergy injections?

Yes, reactions may occur. They may be local or generalized. We take our injections very seriously and ensure qualified providers are on staff during treatment.

A. Local reactions: These are not unusual and they consist of redness, swelling and itching at the site of the injection. These local reactions may occur immediately, or up to six hours after a shot. If a local reaction is bothersome, then an antihistamine should be taken to clear it up. Application of a cold towel also helps the local reaction in most cases.

B. Generalized reactions (anaphylactic reactions): These are more serious, but are rare. They usually occur within minutes of the injection and consist of a variety of allergy symptoms such as wheezing, sneezing, hives, itching or swelling. If severe, an anaphylactic reaction may result in shock, coma or even death. If an anaphylactic reaction occurs, the treatment is an injection of Adrenalin (epinephrine).

Because of the possibility of anaphylactic reaction, it is recommended that allergy injections always be given in a medical facility.

To ensure the safety of our patients we always require that patients to wait 30 minutes after the injection and then have the nurse check the injection site prior to leaving the appointment. The 30 minute wait is required even when on the maintenance dosage.

4. What is the schedule for allergy shots?

The initial dosage is very small and subsequent doses are increased. The first phase of the treatment is called the “build-up period”, and it lasts about 3-4 months. During this time, injections are given twice weekly. When the maintenance dose is reached, the shots are given once weekly, as long as they are needed.

5. How long is it before allergy injections take effect?

Since it takes time to build a person’s immunity with this treatment, we usually do not see relief for a few months. In some patients, it takes a year for significant relief to be noticed. During this time, it is important for patients to take whatever allergy medications may be required to control their symptoms.

6. How long are allergy injections needed?

The average person needs allergy injection treatment for at least 4-6 years. It is important that the treatment be continued long enough so that the individual will have immunity after the shots are stopped. The doctor should always make the decision as to when the shots should be stopped, and allergy testing may be necessary to help make this decision.

7. Can I take other medicine while I am taking allergy injections?

Yes. You can take other medicines that are necessary to control your symptoms while you take allergy injections. It is important for you to try to control your allergy symptoms with medication whenever possible.

8. Should I have my allergy injection if I am sick?

If you have a high fever or a severe cold, postpone your allergy injection for a few days. If your illness is mild and you are not sick enough to be off work or out of school, take your injection as scheduled

9. What should I do when we go on vacation?

Normally we suggest that the allergy injections not be taken on a vacation. If the vacation is more than six weeks and there are medical facilities in the area, you may continue your injections. In this case, we will supply a bottle of extract for you to take on your trip.

10. What happens if I miss an injection?

No harm is done in missing an occasional injection. Every effort should be made to get injections on time. Regularity is important in assuring the best result for this type of treatment.

11. Can I receive my injections at home?

The newer allergy extracts are very potent and the strong doses may result in reactions. Because of this potential, it is recommended that the injections be given in a medical facility where a doctor or physician assistant is present.

12. Do any medications interfere with allergy shots?

Yes. If you are taking beta-blocking drugs (Inderal, Blocadren, Lopressor, Tenormin, Corgard, etc), treatment of an anaphylactic allergy shot reaction may be very difficult. For that reason, we would prefer not to give shots to anyone on a beta-blocker.

Allergy Drops – SLIT (Sub-Lingual Immuno-Therapy)

1.What are allergy drops?

SLIT, also called “allergy drops,” is a way to desensitize you to things you’re allergic. It works in the same general way as allergy shots, but are given by mouth, every day by you at home.  The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has not yet approved the drops.

2. What are the pros and cons of allergy drops?

Safety of the drops has been excellent: serious allergic reactions are very rare. Like allergy shots, allergy drops lead to a long-term reduction in allergy symptoms by building up your immunity.

Allergy drops have been used for many years. There is agreement that the drops work well, even if they’re not quite as effective as shots.  However, there is individual patient variability and some patients do well on shots but not on drops, and vice versa.

3. Should I choose allergy shots or allergy drops?

This depends on several factors: convenience, cost, and tolerance.

  • If you (or your child) can’t tolerate needles, allergy drops might be ideal.
  • If it is inconvenient for you to come to the office for the shots.
  • If you have a high deductible or co-pay, drops might be preferred
  • many patients, cost may be the biggest factor in making a choice.

4. What does it cost?

Because the FDA has not yet cleared drops for U.S. use, insurance does not cover. The extracts cost $390 every 3 months. There is no injection cost as with shots. For many patients, cost may be the biggest factor in making a choice.

5. Who is a candidate for allergy drops?

Drops could be your first treatment before going to shots. Drops may be less expensive than shots (if you have a high deductible).

  • If you have fear of needles.
  • If you can’t come to the office for the shots.
  • If you have been on shots a few years and doing well you may be able to go to the drops.

6. How soon will I notice improvements?

Some patients notice benefit as early as 3-6 months, but it can take up to a year to see clear improvement. Sometimes this depends on what time of year you start: if you start allergy drops in the summer or fall, you may reach maintenance dose during the winter and not notice benefit until the next pollen season.

7. How long are allergy drops continued?

Generally 5 years, though occasionally a patient will remain on drops longer.

8. What side effects can happen?

Lip or tongue itch is the most commonly reported side effect, and is generally mild. Occasionally people can experience nausea, cramping, rashes or hives, or headaches. Generalized reactions (anaphylaxis) have been reported and can include throat tightness, wheezing, trouble breathing, and a drop in blood pressure or “passing out.” Systemic reactions are extremely rare, and there has not been a reported fatality with allergy drops. However, we recommend always having an epinephrine auto-injector available (Epi-Pen, Auvi-Q, or similar) while taking allergy drops. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has not yet approved the drops.

allergist