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What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a treatment used to relieve allergy symptoms of hay fever or allergic asthma by administering injections of substances such as pollens, mold spores, dust mites, animal dander or insects to which an individual has been found to be allergic to by skin testing.

These injections (allergy shots) seem to “turn off” the abnormal immune reaction that we call an “allergy.” In reality, allergy shots have been available to patients for close to 100 years and the technique has been significantly improved over time. Patients have noted a high degree of success in terms of either eliminating or greatly reducing their rhinitis symptoms as well as allergic asthma symptoms, too.

When an allergic person is exposed to an allergic substance (such as cat dander), he or she may develop symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, watery eyes, chest tightness, or wheezing.

Various cells that line the nose and the airways actually release chemicals (called “mediators”) that cause these symptoms. An inflammatory reaction accompanies this process and leads to persistent symptoms.

Immunotherapy interferes with the actions of these cells to diminish the effects of the chemical mediators that cause allergic symptoms.

Allergy Shots Info:

When you need an allergy shot, just drive up to either of our locations in Appleton and Waupaca, and we will see you within
15 minutes. You don’t even need an appointment. If you haven’t started allergy shots, or you’re switching providers, here’s our process and what you can expect from immunotherapy.

Allergy injections should be administered at a medical facility with a physician present since occasional reactions may
require immediate therapy. That’s why we require our patients to come in to our offices for their allergy shots. Or you
may get your shots at your family doctor’s office if more convenient as long as a physician can monitor you.

As an added precaution, you must wait in our office where you receive your injection at least 20 minutes after each
injection so that, in the unlikely event of a generalized reaction, you can be quickly treated and observed, thereby
decreasing the likelihood of a more severe reaction.

How Are Injections Given and For How Long?

During the “build up” phase, we give increasing doses of allergy injections once or twice a week until a predetermined target or “maintenance”
dose is achieved. This usually takes 6-9 months (36 injections).

Once this maintenance dose is reached, shots are usually administered every 2-4 weeks over the several years of treatment.

Clinical improvement with immunotherapy usually occurs in the first year. In a small percentage of patients, there is no improvement and, in this
case, immunotherapy is discontinued.

However, if symptoms do improve, injections are usually continued for at least 3-5 years of maintenance therapy.

At that time, we will make a joint decision with you about whether to gradually taper and discontinue injections or to continue treatment.

Reactions to Immunotherapy:

Local reactions (swelling, itching, or tenderness at the site of the injection) may occur in most patients receiving
injections. These local reactions usually subside in a day or less.

Large local reactions and generalized (systemic) reactions may occur in 1-5% of patients receiving allergy injections and usually occur during the build up phase, although they can occur at any time during this course of treatment. These reactions necessitate a dosage adjustment (Reactions can be serious but rarely fatal).

– Itchy Eyes, Nose, and Throat
– Runny Nose
– Nasal Congestion
– Sneezing
– Tightness in Throat or Chest
– Coughing
– Wheezing
– Lightheadedness
– Faintness
– Nausea and Vomiting
– Hives
– (Under Extreme Circumstances) Shock

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Treatment of Injection Reactions

Simple and local reactions that consist of swelling of the arm, redness or tenderness at the site of the injection are best
handled with simple measures such as a local cold compress, or the use of medications, such as an antihistamine.

However, at the first sign of a systemic reaction, adrenaline (epinephrine) is usually given to counteract the reaction. Severe
reactions that include chest symptoms are treated in the same way any asthmatic attack would be treated.

If, after you leave our facility, you experienced a generalized reaction from an allergy injection, please either return to the
clinic or proceed to the nearest emergency room.

Before any additional injections are given, or for questions or assistance, please call us.