Pollen season is upon us, and for many people here in Tampa Bay, that’s synonymous with allergy season. Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are a type of treatment for individuals with more severe allergies. They involve injecting small doses of allergens under the skin to help the body build up a tolerance to the allergen. Over time, this can reduce the severity of allergic reactions or even eliminate them altogether. In this blog post, we’ll explore the science behind how allergy shots work.
How Allergies Work
Before we dive into how allergy shots work, it’s important to understand how allergies work in the first place. When an allergen (such as pollen, mold, or pet dander) enters the body, it triggers an immune response. The immune system produces a specific type of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to fight the allergen, which causes symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and swelling. IgE is responsible for triggering the allergic response.
For individuals with severe allergies, this immune response can be intense and even life-threatening. Allergy shots work by desensitizing the immune system to the allergen, so it no longer produces an excessive immune response.
How Allergy Shots Work
Allergy shots are expertly formulated with small amounts of the allergen that the individual is allergic to. The doses are carefully calibrated to gradually increase over time, with the goal of slowly desensitizing the immune system to the allergen.
When the shots are given, the immune system is gradually trained to produce a different antibody, called immunoglobulin G (IgG), rather than IgE to the allergen(s) in the shots. IgG works differently than IgE. Instead of triggering an allergic response, it blocks the allergen from attaching to cells in the body that cause allergic reactions. This process is called immune tolerance. Essentially, the body learns to tolerate the allergen instead of mounting an immune response against it. Over time, as the dose of the allergen(s) in the shots increases, the body produces less IgE and more IgG, helping alleviate allergy symptoms.
Benefits of Allergy Shots
Allergy shots can be a highly effective way to manage severe allergies. They can reduce or eliminate the need for medications and can provide long-term relief from allergy symptoms. Some individuals even find that they no longer experience allergic symptoms at all after completing a full course of allergy shots.
It’s worth noting that allergy shots are a long-term commitment. The process can take several months or even years, and it requires regular injections. However, for individuals with severe allergies, the benefits can be well worth the time and effort.
Allergy Shots in Tampa Bay
Allergy shots can provide long-term relief for individuals with severe allergies. While the process takes time and effort, for many people, the benefits of allergy shots outweigh any drawbacks. If you’re struggling with severe allergies and live in Tampa Bay, contact Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay at 813-971-9743 to schedule an allergy evaluation today. Together, we can develop an allergy treatment plan, including lifestyle adjustments, medications, and allergy shots if appropriate, to reduce or eliminate your allergy symptoms.