SCIT (SubCutaneous ImmunoTherapy) Allergy Shots
Once you have been tested with allergy testing, immunotherapy (allergy shots or allergy drops) may be an option for you. Immunotherapy is used if your allergic symptoms are not controlled by allergen avoidance, if medications are not effective, if you can’t avoid what you are allergic to, etc. The purpose of immunotherapy is to make you less sensitive to allergens and provide a chance for cure from allergies. It is the only treatment that can potentially cure allergies. Medications only can improve symptoms but not cure allergies.
Allergy shots have been proven effective for the control of allergies and asthma. Allergy shots contain the same allergens that you are allergic to based on your skin testing. These shots are given over a period of 3-5 years to slowly build up your immunity to the allergen naturally. It can eventually lead to a cure for your allergies or can reduce the need for medications significantly.
Allergy shots are given once or twice a week at increasing doses. When the highest dose is reached (maintenance dose), shots can be given monthly. It takes about 5-8 months to reach the maintenance dose. Most people start experiencing some relief from their symptoms by 1 month. The total duration of immunotherapy is about 3-5 years, at which time, it can be stopped in many cases. The effect of allergy shots can continue for life. Most patients (over 80%) experience relief from their allergy and asthma symptoms. Some patients may find that they have improved but still need medications at times. The amount of medications needed is often significantly lessened.
After the allergy shot, you will need to wait in the office for 20-30 minutes to check for any adverse reactions. Severe reactions such as anaphylaxis is extremely rare and usually occurs within minutes after the injection. Other reactions may include rash, itchiness, fever or problems breathing. Please notify our nurse immediately. These reactions can be reversed. The risk for reactions can increase if you are on beta-blocker medications (used for heart/blood pressure problems, migraines, eye drops for glaucoma).
When you come in for your allergy shot:
1. Wear short sleeves for easy access to the arm
2. You may take antihistamines prior to your shot if you tend to get local reactions
3. You can take antihistamines, topical 1% hydrocortisone cream, and ice pack to reduce local reactions
4. Please notify us of any change in your medications!
5. You can not receive allergy shots if you have a fever or an asthma flare or a viral infection.
6. Avoid exercise for 2 hours after a shot.
We are required to bill your insurance company at the time of preparation of all antigen vials for your allergy shots as determined by your allergy testing. Allergy shots are typically covered by insurance, but the coverage can vary with each insurance company. If a co-pay is required from your insurance company, we are required to collect the co-pay prior to each visit when receiving allergy shots. The first office visit with the doctor and some occasional follow up visits with the doctor are necessary for proper medical supervision. These are services that are billed to your insurance company. Please check with your insurance company for coverage and co-pay requirements. The typical codes used (but not limited to) are 95165, 95115, 95117.