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    Should You Get Allergy Shots?

    WebMD Magazine - Feature
    Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD

    You should talk to your doctor about it. While they can’t cure your allergies, they can really cut down on your symptoms.

    The shots work best if you have severe allergies or symptoms that last more than 3 months every year, says Michael Land, MD. They’ll also help if you can't take allergy medicines because of side effects or interactions with your other medications.

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    They’re a form of immunotherapy, which teaches your immune system not to overreact to allergy triggers. Each shot contains a little bit of the thing that sets your allergy off, like pollen. Over time the dose gets bigger, so your body slowly and safely becomes less sensitive to it.

    At first, you'll get the shots once or twice a week for a few months. Some people start to feel relief within the first few weeks, though it may take several months.

    When you reach the most effective dose, called your maintenance dose, you'll get a shot every 2 to 4 weeks for 3 to 5 years. Eventually, you may not need them at all, unless you move to an area where the pollen is different.

    In most cases, the treatment doesn't cause side effects, other than redness and slight swelling of the skin where you got the shot. Because there's a small chance that you could have an allergic reaction, you’ll get each injection at a doctor's office and stay there for about 30 minutes afterward.

    Instead of shots, you can also get immunotherapy with tablets that dissolve under your tongue. They work the same way, but you can take them at home instead of going to see your doctor. The FDA has approved three: Grastek, Oralair, and Ragwitek. 

    Reviewed on January 27, 2016

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