Allergy symptoms range from mild and annoying to serious and life-threatening. When you’re allergic to something, your body perceives it as an invader and dispatches chemical messengers to immune system cells. Allergy shots expose your body to very small amounts of what you’re allergic to so your body can safely and gradually build up immunity. Allergy shots take time to work, but the effects are often well worth the time investment. There’s even some evidence that allergy shots can prevent asthma in children, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
See your allergist to determine which types of allergies you have. Your allergist may need to perform a series of tests to determine with certainty the precise allergen. Certain allergies, like food allergies, can’t be treated with shots, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
Begin the build-up phase of treatment, where your body begins to slowly build up an immunity to what you’re allergic to. Schedule one or more shots per week for up to six months, depending on the treatment plan you’ve made with your allergist.
Monitor yourself for reactions after your shot that you suspect are shot related or caused by allergen exposure in the real world. Keep detailed records and share them with your allergist to help make sure your shot dosages and timing are effective.
Enter the maintenance phase of treatment, where you begin to space your shots farther and farther apart until you wean yourself off of them. Get your shots weekly, then monthly, then bi-monthly, then staggered as recommended by your doctor. Prepare to be in the maintenance phase for as long as five years, according to Kids Health.
Monitor your allergy symptoms for life. See your allergist if you experience a relapse of symptoms or if the immunity seems to be wearing off. You may have ended treatment too soon, or you may need a different form of allergy management.