If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from allergies, you’re well aware of how the symptoms can impact day-to-day life. Some people have symptoms so severe that it significantly reduces their quality of life. Avoiding your triggers is always the first step, but it isn’t always possible, depending on the allergen.

If other treatments haven’t helped you, your allergist may recommend allergy shots. Also called immunotherapy, allergy shots can give you relief at last.

Through her Redondo Beach, California, practice, allergy specialist Dr. Ulrike Ziegner treats adults and children with a wide variety of allergies and immunologic conditions, including allergy shots. Here’s how they work and how they can give you relief from your allergy symptoms.

Immunotherapy for allergies

Immunotherapy is a unique way of treating allergies and asthma. The goal is to change the way your immune system reacts to triggers in the environment, such as dust mites and pet dander.

When you have an allergy, it means your immune system is reacting to everyday things around you. Mold, dust mites, pollen, and pet dander are the most common environmental allergens.

These substances are harmless for most people, but if you have an allergy and come in contact with the trigger substance, you may experience:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Headaches

If you have severe allergies, you may experience life-threatening symptoms. People with seasonal allergies develop symptoms that worsen at certain times of the year.

How are environmental allergies diagnosed?

If you think you have an allergy, the first step is to see Dr. Ziegner for a proper diagnosis. Dr. Ziegner takes a thorough medical history and asks about your symptoms and family history. She uses this information along with allergy testing to diagnose your allergy and determine what substance is triggering your immune system’s reaction.

Dr. Ziegner may order:

  • Skin prick testing
  • Blood allergy test
  • Additional testing

Allergy shots: an effective solution

Immunotherapy involves creating an individualized vaccine. The shot exposes your immune system to a small amount of the allergen, so it teaches the immune system to tolerate the substance, reducing the immune reaction.

You may have heard that allergy shots aren’t helpful. However, in our clinic — and backed by a strong body of research — immunotherapy reduces allergy symptoms in most people and lessens the need for medications.

Benefits of allergy shots include:

  • Reduced allergy symptoms
  • Reduced risk for developing new allergies
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduced need for medication

How do allergy shots work?

Immunotherapy typically takes place in two phases.


During the buildup phase, Dr. Ziegner injects a very low dose of the allergen into the tissue just under your skin. You may need to go in once or twice a week for your injections. Each shot will cause your immune system to gradually build up tolerance to the allergen.

To ensure that you remain safe, Dr. Ziegner will monitor you for 30 minutes following each shot. If you experience an adverse reaction, she and her team can act swiftly. Most people require 28 shots during the buildup phase.

Maintenance phase

During the maintenance phase, Dr. Ziegner spaces out your allergy shots, typically every 2-4 weeks. You may need to remain on this maintenance regimen for 3-5 years. After the shots are discontinued, many people continue to experience relief from their symptoms.

You don’t have to live with the uncomfortable symptoms of an allergy. For diagnosis and management of allergic conditions, call our Redondo Beach, California, office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ziegner. You can also book online at your convenience.

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