Otherwise known as allergy shots, Allergen Immunotherapy (AI) is a series of allergen injections designed to make the patient’s immune system more accepting of allergens in the environment. This results in reducing symptoms, reducing or eliminating the need for medication, and a decrease in time lost due to illnesses caused by allergies.
- Generally, patients who require AI have failed a combination of avoidance and several medications.
- In order to be a candidate for AI, the patient must receive a thorough work-up including a complete history, limited physical exam, and allergy skin testing.
- The content of the injections is based on those skin tests that were positive during testing, as well as the patient’s history of symptoms.
- Because AI involves actually injecting the patient with allergens, it is a process that involves building tolerance. This is done with a series of injections from a “starter set” of shot vials, called extract, or serum. Each set includes three to five vials of increasing strength per injection. The goal of treatment is to build tolerance to the highest strength and dose possible.
- AI is the closest alternative available to a cure, and will generally result in the best symptom relief of all the treatment options.
- Patients are generally treated for an average of five years, although injections may be continued indefinitely.