Also known as allergen immunotherapy, allergy shots treat certain types of allergies. For example, these shots may help children who are allergic to things like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen. 

Allergy shots don’t treat food allergies; strict avoidance of the offending food is the only treatment. For children with environmental allergies, however, immunotherapy can retrain the immune system and decrease your child’s symptoms. In contrast to Over The Counter medications which suppress symptoms from an allergic reaction, allergy shots will teach your immune system not to develop an allergic reaction.

Here at Riviera Allergy Medical Center in Redondo Beach, California, allergy and immunology specialist Ulrike Ziegner, MD, routinely helps adults and parents of children with allergies by diagnosing and managing their condition. The goal is to minimize the effects of symptoms on your child’s daily life. 

Allergy shots are the only treatment capable of changing the immune system so that it doesn’t overreact to things found in the environment. While it requires some patience, your child’s symptoms improve with time. 

What is allergen immunotherapy?

Allergy shots involve injecting your child with very small doses of the allergen over time. The gradual buildup of the allergen in their body helps to change their immune system, making them less likely to have a negative reaction if they’re exposed to it.

Your child may be a good candidate for allergen immunotherapy if they have allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, asthma, or insect sting allergies. To find out if this is the right treatment for your child, Dr. Ziegner performs allergy testing and takes a thorough medical history. 

Although allergen immunotherapy is not recommended for all children or all allergies, it can be extremely beneficial in many cases. In fact, a high percentage of children receiving maintenance immunotherapy have a significant improvement in their symptoms, as well as a reduction in their need for additional medication.

Immunotherapy may be an ideal option when:

  • Symptoms are persistent and occur throughout the year
  • Medication and lifestyle changes haven’t adequately relieved symptoms
  • Side effects of medication aren’t tolerable
  • Your child can’t avoid exposure to allergens

Your child’s symptoms may improve within a few doses of starting therapy.

What do allergy shots involve?

Your child’s first injection is a small dose of the allergen. Each week, we gradually increase the dose until your child reaches the maintenance dose. It may take 24 weeks to get to that dose.

After the injection, your child needs to stay in our office for 30 minutes to ensure they don’t experience any adverse reactions. 

You then bring your child in for maintenance doses of the allergy medication every two weeks, then every three weeks, and finally every four weeks. Depending on the severity of your child’s allergy, they may need to continue monthly injections for 3-5 years. 

There are shortened schedules for allergen immunotherapy that can help your child build up to the maintenance dose faster. Dr. Ziegner can determine if this option is appropriate for your child. 

Treating the underlying cause of allergies can improve your child’s quality of life. To get started, schedule a visit with Dr. Ziegner to have your child evaluated. We look forward to helping your child feel better!

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