Traditional Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)
Dr. Brauer will determine the best treatment approach for you depending on your symptoms and allergy testing results. A combined treatment approach to attack your allergy symptoms, asthma, or immunologic issues is often the most effective and commonly utilized method. Approaches include allergy shots, medications, and patient education. We have newer treatments at our disposal as well as key FDA-approved treatments.
Immunotherapy is a preventative treatment which serves to alter the immune system so that through a long-term treatment plan the body will no longer react to the troublesome allergen(s). The allergy shot is given in the arm and contains a very small dose of the allergen. Because the shot does not require muscle penetration, patients typically do not experience soreness or pain. During the build-up phase which lasts between 4-6 months, the dose of allergen is initially small but increases until the necessary dosage for immunity is met. After the patient has completed the build-up phase, they will move into the maintenance phase which lasts between 3-5 years.
Conditions often treated with immunotherapy can include:
- Eye & nasal allergies (conjunctivitis)
- Allergic asthma
- Immunologic diseases
- Stinging insect allergies
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Rhinitis (hay fever)
Minor symptoms from the allergy shot may appear such as redness, itchiness, or swelling of the area. Extremely rarely, a patient could experience concerning symptoms that require medical attention, which is why we have patients stay at Bluegrass Family Allergy for 20-30 minutes after your immunotherapy to be treated if this occurs. Often, primary care doctors in surrounding areas are willing to administer this treatment. Be sure to thank them!
Allergy shots or immunotherapy are the only way to successfully treat the cause of the allergy and reduce the number of allergy medications necessary. It is a treatment that requires a time commitment during the initial phase, but is well worth it as the bulk of your treatment course will likely be monthly visits. You will be surprised at how easy and painless it is to have immunotherapy each week, and we are confident you will be pleased with the results. Dr. Brauer offers convenient extended shot hours in evenings, on traditional lunchbreaks, and on Saturdays, and will work with you to make this treatment less-demanding on your schedule. Allergy shots are covered by most insurance plans. Some even classify immunotherapy as preventative care and cover the treatment with no out-of-pocket costs.
What is Cluster Immunotherapy?
Allergy immunotherapy is the medical term for a very effective treatment to help you become less allergic. Cluster immunotherapy is a process of giving allergy shots to treat your underlying allergies but unlike conventional immunotherapy, Cluster Immunotherapy allows the patient to reach their “maintenance dose” over a period of weeks, rather than months, thus allowing the patient to experience the benefits of immunotherapy sooner.
Cluster immunotherapy involves receiving a series of injections based on your allergy skin test results, allergy exposure and allergy history. The contents of the patient’s immunotherapy vials are specifically formulated, based on his/her specific allergic sensitivities. During Cluster, the patient receives 2-3 injections every 30 minutes and by the end of the visit, most patients have completed a month’s worth of immunotherapy injections in one, 2 hour visit. Because the patient will be receiving injections of what he or she is allergic to, an adverse reaction can occur and with Cluster immunotherapy, there is a higher incidence of developing one of these reactions. It is therefore very important to take specific medications (usually an antihistamine and Singulair), before, as well as the day of, Cluster immunotherapy. If you feel that you would benefit from undergoing immunotherapy, specifically Cluster immunotherapy, please feel free to contact our office for additional information.
Insurance and Allergy Shots
Some Kentucky state policies offer allergy services at no out-of-pocket cost. Allergy shot visits typically do not require a copay, but this varies greatly among plans. Dr. Brauer’s staff works with patients to make the financial aspects of immunotherapy less of a burden. However, we are required by contracts to charge when specified. In general, most insurance companies recognize that allergy shots actually save them money. Did you know that your nose spray for example, can cost your insurance $100 while you pay a $20 copay?