How do Allergy Shots Work?


Allergy shots, or allergen immunotherapy, is a treatment option for patients who suffer with symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis (eye symptoms), allergic asthma, eczema and venom allergy. The shots can produce significant relief in symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion, cough, nasal drainage and itchy eyes.

Allergy shots work like a vaccine. By administering increasing amounts of allergen to the immune system, the shots desensitize the body to specific allergy triggers, such as pollen, dust, mold and animal dander. This process leads to tolerance and unresponsiveness when exposed to allergens and may even lead to long-term relief years after completing a course of immunotherapy.

A course of immunotherapy requires two phases: build-up and maintenance. The build-up phase of allergy shots typically takes four to six months of weekly allergy shots with increasing amounts of allergens. The maintenance phase begins when the most effective dose is reached and is administered every two to four weeks for a period of three to five years.

Allergy shots are recommended for those patients who continue to suffer from allergens despite use of medications or for those who desire to avoid long-term medication use. Allergy shots are typically well-tolerated and can be started in patients as young as 5 years old. The shots may also prevent asthma and the development of new allergies.


About the author

Eric Karlin, M.D.

Dr. Eric Karlin is an allergist/immunologist board-certified by the American Board of Allergy & Immunology. He is a native of South Florida and attended Rollins College for his undergraduate degree in biochemistry. After graduating from medical school at the University of Miami in 2009, he completed his internal medicine residency at Vanderbilt University.

After completion of his fellowship, Dr. Karlin practiced as an associate professor in the division of Allergy and Immunology at New York Medical College and Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. Dr. Karlin joined Allergy Partners of Hampton Roads in 2016.

Having allergies himself, Dr. Karlin has experienced the significant improvement in symptoms that care from an allergist can offer. He is happily married to Dr. Mariel Fosceneau, who practices as a pediatric and adolescent gynecologist in the Hampton Roads area. In their spare time, they enjoy cooking, seeing movies and traveling. They are excited to be making the Peninsula their new home.

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