Allergy Shots (Subcutaneous Immunotherapy or SCIT)

Allergy shots or subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) have been the gold standard in allergy immunotherapy for quite a while since their development over 100 years ago. Allergy shots are highly effective for allergic conditions of the nose and eyes. They are indicated for concerns like asthma and insect stings. Mainly, allergy shots can be effective for common environmental problems like tree, grass, and weed allergies, as well as inside-the-home concerns like mold, dust, and dander. Allergy shots can help with allergic asthma and reduce the need for medications in the future.

How Do Subcutaneous Immunotherapy Shots Work?

A small amount of allergen is mixed with a delivery liquid and injected into the arm. Introducing this allergen helps the immune system adapt, eventually desensitizing it to the allergen. Typically, allergy shots are needed weekly for the first several months of treatment until maintenance level is reached. After this time, Dr. Boger may reduce the frequency of injections to every two weeks. Reduced symptoms and reduced demand for medication indicate success, and the shots can be given less often. For most, this therapy will continue for 3-5 years, at which point they may reach a level of desensitization that no longer requires injections. Other patients may need to continue their shots every 2-4 weeks indefinitely.

The Difference Between Shots and Sublingual Drops

We understand that, for some, getting regular injections is not ideal. As such, we are proponents of sublingual drops (SLIT) which are custom mixed based on the patient’s testing results. The drops are as effective and can be far more comfortable for some patients who are not amenable to shots. In addition, the risk of a potentially fatal anaphylactic response (with airway collapse) is virtually zero, making them a bit safer than shots.

Lozenges are also available but only work for one allergy at a time (currently ragweed, grass, pollen, and dust mites). Since most allergy sufferers have more than one concern, treatment requires specialized knowledge and skill from an experienced allergy and ENT physician like Dr. Boger.

Risks of Allergy Shots

Whenever an allergen is introduced into the body, anaphylaxis is possible. This severe allergic reaction puts a person into shock and can lead to death if not treated promptly with epinephrine (EpiPen). As such, allergy shots are administered in the office under our supervision, and the patient must wait for 30 minutes before leaving.