Dr Barry Lampl Phone: 216-831-4930
Allergy Immunotherapy or "Allergy Shots"
Many patients choose immunotherapy to treat their allergies. Immunotherapy consists of weekly injections of small doses of the allergens to which you are allergic. The doses are small enough that you do not have an allergic reaction, yet large enough that your body's immune system begins to tolerate it. The amount of allergens is increased until the allergen, when encountered, no longer causes a severe reaction.
How long will you need treatment?
Every patient is different. You can help the process by consistently receiving your weekly injections. Immunotherapy is generally continued for 3-5 years.
How long until I feel better?
Again, every patient is different but some patients may feel better after three to six months of immunotherapy. In the meantime, the doctor can prescribe medication that will provide temporary relief from your symptoms. It may take up to a year for improvement to occur with immunotherapy.
What if I miss my shots?
Many patients experience a return of their allergy symptoms. In addition, missing shots slows down the desensitization process.
Before you receive your first shot, you will be given a prescription for an Epipen. Have it filled at your local pharmacy and bring it with you every time you get your shot. The doctor will instruct you on its use. This is an emergency kit used only if you have a severe reaction to your injection. Your Epipen is to be used, if after a shot, you experience difficulty breathing, hives, immediate severe sneezing, coughing or itching or swelling (other than shot site - i.e. the arm area in which the injection was given).
If such a reaction occurs, use your Epipen and go immediately to the nearest medical facility. Upon arrival call Allergy Diagnostics (216) 831-4930.
We bill your insurance company first. Most policies cover 80% of the cost of diagnosis and treatment. If you have a question about your particular plan, consult your personnel director, insurance company itself or ask our staff to help.
We accept Medicare, Medicaid, and assignment. We are happy to explain all cost and procedures; should you not understand a bill, we encourage you to call.
Questions and Answers
Who administers the shots?
The shots are generally administered by a doctor or nurse. Even if a nurse actually gives you the shot, a doctor is always nearby to assist you in the event that you react to the shots.
React in what way?
The most common side effect of allergy shots is swelling, redness or itching at the site of the injection. An oral antihistamine or aspirin usually relieves this minor discomfort. In other instances, the whole arm may swell. The most serious side effect, however, is anaphylaxis, which must be treated with a shot of epinephrine. Fortunately, however, such extreme reactions are rare, and the risk of fatality from immunotherapy is rarer still (approx. one death per 2.5 million injections). Still, because the possibility of anaphylaxis exists, it is important that the shots be administered only in the physicians office, where facilities and trained personnel are available to treat it. This is also why most doctors ask you to wait in the office for 25-30 minutes after you have received your shot. Most anaphylactic reactions occur during this time.
How will I know if immunotherapy is the right choice for me?
That's a decision you will have to make for yourself - after consulting with your doctor. Generally, the people who benefit most from immunotherapy are those who have allergy (confirmed by skin testing) to a substance for which treatment is available: