Allergy Shots: What to Expect, Risks, Benefits, and Costs

Wyndly Care Team
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What is the downside to allergy shots?

The downsides to allergy shots include potential side effects like redness, swelling at the injection site, and mild to severe allergic reactions. They require a long-term commitment, typically 3-5 years, with regular appointments. Also, they may not be effective for everyone, and can be costly.

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What Are Allergy Shots?

Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, are treatments that aim to decrease sensitivity to allergens. They are typically recommended for individuals suffering from severe allergies that are not manageable through medication alone.


Allergy shots are a type of treatment that involves injecting small amounts of allergens into the body. The goal is to help the body's immune system become less sensitive to these substances over time. This treatment is commonly prescribed for individuals suffering from severe allergies that are difficult to control with standard medication.

How They Work

Allergy shots work by gradually exposing the body to increasing doses of the allergens that cause your symptoms. This exposure helps your immune system build up a tolerance to the allergens, resulting in fewer or less severe allergic reactions. It's a long-term treatment that can take several months to a few years to be fully effective.

Who Should Consider Allergy Shots?

Allergy shots are primarily recommended for individuals who have severe allergies that are not adequately managed by medications, or those who experience side effects from allergy drugs. They are also considered for those who want to reduce long-term use of allergy medication.

People with allergic asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and stinging insect allergies may benefit from allergy shots. However, allergy shots are not recommended for those with severe, uncontrolled asthma or certain heart conditions.

The decision to start allergy shots should also consider the commitment involved. The treatment requires regular injections over a period of three to five years. For those who cannot commit to this schedule or have a fear of injections, allergy drops may be a suitable alternative. Lastly, the benefits and drawbacks of allergy shots should be weighed before opting for this form of treatment.

How to Prepare for Allergy Shots?

Preparation for allergy shots involves an in-depth consultation and allergy testing. Patients should discuss their medical history and current medications with their doctor. It's essential to avoid antihistamines for several days before the allergy test as they can affect the results.

Preparation Steps

The first step towards preparing for allergy shots is to get a skin test to identify the allergens causing your symptoms. This test involves pricking the skin with a small amount of the suspected allergens and observing the reaction. The results guide the formulation of the allergy shot serum, which contains minute amounts of the identified allergens.

Once the serum is ready, a schedule for the shots is established. The usual schedule involves a build-up phase with frequent injections, followed by a maintenance phase with less frequent injections. It's important to follow this schedule closely to achieve the best results.

Procedure Details

The procedure for allergy shots is straightforward. The shot is usually given in the upper arm. After the injection, patients must wait in the doctor's office for about 30 minutes to monitor any adverse reactions. These reactions are uncommon but can include swelling at the injection site or more serious systemic reactions.

In the build-up phase, the dose of allergens in the shots is gradually increased. This phase typically lasts three to six months. After reaching the effective dose, the maintenance phase begins. During this phase, the frequency of the shots decreases, usually to once every two to four weeks. Most people continue maintenance treatment for three to five years. After this period, some people may no longer have significant allergic reactions to the allergens, while others may need ongoing treatment.

What Are the Risks and Benefits of Allergy Shots?

Allergy shots carry a balance of risks and benefits. While they present a chance of side effects and adverse reactions, they also offer the potential for long-term relief from allergies, something not offered by typical allergy medications.


The primary risk associated with allergy shots is an allergic reaction to the shots themselves. This reaction can range from a mild irritation at the injection site to a more serious systemic reaction like anaphylaxis. The latter is rare but can be life-threatening. Therefore, allergy shots should always be administered in a medical facility under a healthcare professional's supervision.


On the benefits side, allergy shots offer the potential for a long-term solution to allergies. They can reduce the severity of your allergies and may even lead to complete resolution of symptoms in some cases. This is because allergy shots work by desensitizing your immune system to the allergens that cause your symptoms, rather than just relieving the symptoms. This immunomodulatory effect provides a more definitive solution compared to antihistamines or nasal corticosteroids which provide only temporary relief.

Side Effects

Common side effects of allergy shots include redness, swelling, or irritation at the injection site. These usually resolve within a day or two. Less common are systemic reactions which may include symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, hives, or, very rarely, anaphylaxis. It is important to inform your healthcare provider if you experience any side effects, particularly systemic ones. This will allow them to adjust your treatment plan as necessary to ensure your safety while still maximizing the benefits of treatment.

What Can You Expect from Allergy Shots?

After receiving allergy shots, you can expect to experience some immediate relief from your allergy symptoms. However, the full effect of the treatment is typically seen after a series of injections over a period of time.

Recovery and Outlook

Post-injection, you may experience mild swelling or redness at the injection site, which is normal and should subside within a day or two. The outlook for allergy shots is generally positive, with many patients experiencing significant reduction in their allergy symptoms and some even achieving complete resolution. However, it's important to remember that the response to allergy shots is individual, and results may vary.


The results of allergy shots are typically realized over time, with the full benefit often becoming evident after a year or more of regular injections. The goal of allergy shots is to achieve long-term relief from allergy symptoms, so even though it's a gradual process, the results can be quite profound. In fact, studies have shown that allergy shots can be just as effective as allergy drops in providing long-term relief, demonstrating the effectiveness of this form of treatment.

When Should You Contact a Doctor After Receiving Allergy Shots?

It's essential to contact your doctor if you experience severe or unusual reactions following your allergy shots. These could indicate an allergic reaction to the medication or a complication requiring immediate medical attention.

Signs to Call the Doctor

Signs that you should call your doctor include severe swelling or redness at the injection site, difficulty breathing, hives, weakness, rapid heart rate, or any other symptoms that seem out of the ordinary. While most side effects from allergy shots are mild and temporary, any severe or persistent symptoms should warrant a call to the doctor.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, is another treatment option for allergies. Like allergy shots, they work by gradually desensitizing your immune system to allergens. However, instead of injections, the allergen solution is placed under your tongue. It's crucial to discuss any new or worsening symptoms with your doctor when receiving any form of allergy immunotherapy.

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If you want long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you the lifelong relief you deserve. Start by taking our quick online allergy assessment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do allergy shots last?

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, typically last for three to five years. The treatment begins with weekly injections for about six months, and then the frequency reduces to once every four weeks. The exact duration may vary based on individual response and allergen severity.

What are the two types of allergy shots?

The two types of allergy shots are the "build-up phase" and the "maintenance phase." The build-up phase involves receiving injections with increasing amounts of allergens about one to two times a week. The maintenance phase begins once the effective dose is reached, and continues long-term.

What is the truth about allergy shots?

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are an effective treatment for certain allergies. They decrease sensitivity to allergens, which can significantly reduce allergic reactions. However, they require a commitment of regular injections over a period of several years to achieve long-lasting symptom relief.

At what point do you need allergy shots?

Allergy shots, or immunotherapy, are typically recommended when allergies persist year-round, are not well-controlled with medication, or cause severe symptoms. They are also considered when allergies trigger other conditions, like asthma, or when the patient wishes to avoid long-term medication use.

What are the side effects of allergy shots?

Common side effects of allergy shots include redness, swelling, or irritation at the injection site. Some individuals may experience sneezing, nasal congestion, or hives. Serious reactions, like anaphylaxis, are rare but can cause difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, and loss of consciousness.

How long do you feel bad after allergy shots?

The adverse effects after receiving allergy shots—like redness and swelling at the injection site—typically subside within a few hours. However, some individuals may experience flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and body aches, lasting up to 24 to 48 hours post-injection.

Can allergy shots cause flu-like symptoms?

Yes, allergy shots can occasionally cause flu-like symptoms. These may include fever, fatigue, and body aches. These symptoms typically arise as part of the body's immune response to the allergens in the shots and usually diminish over time with continued treatment.

What do allergy shots do to your body?

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, work by gradually exposing your body to small doses of allergens. Over time, this helps your immune system build up a tolerance, reducing the severity of allergic reactions. This process can lead to long-term allergy symptom relief.

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