Rush Immunotherapy involves giving a person multiple allergy shots
over a period of many hours to days, achieving a maintenance dose (or
near-maintenance dose) in a very short amount of time. After the initial
period of rush immunotherapy, a person is able to come into the
allergist’s office typically only once a week for the next many weeks,
then even less often. People undergoing Rush Immunotherapy also achieve
benefit from allergy shots much faster, usually within a few
Rapid build-up schedules for allergy shots are used by some
allergists in order to achieve a higher dose of allergy shots faster,
which results in benefit of the shots sooner. These schedules also
result in a person getting to a “maintenance dose” faster, as well as
being able to come into the allergist’s office less often for allergy
shots once this maintenance dose is achieved. There are two types of
rapid build-up schedules –- Rush Immunotherapy and Cluster
Rush Immunotherapy has an
allergic reactions in a large percentage of people, so various
medications (such as antihistamines and corticosteroids) are often given
in order to prevent or minimize these reactions. A person undergoing
rush immunotherapy should be prepared to spend at least a couple of days
in the allergist’s office, receiving many allergy shots over this time.
Immunotherapy involves giving two or more
allergy shots at each visit, usually spaced apart by 20 to 30
minutes or so. This procedure is performed once or twice a week, and
also allows for a person to get to their maintenance dose much quicker.
While some studies have shown that cluster immunotherapy results in
higher rates of allergic reactions than traditional schedules for
allergy shots, other studies show no difference for rates of allergic
reactions. Some allergists recommend medications, such as
antihistamines, to minimize these reactions during cluster immunotherapy,
while others do not.
Both rush and cluster immunotherapy offer
an alternative to traditional schedules for allergy shots, allowing a
person to achieve higher doses of allergy shots much quicker, and
therefore get benefit sooner. However, both forms probably result in an
increased rate of allergic reactions, particularly for
rush immunotherapy; and both are more of a time commitment up
front. With Rush Immunotherapy, typically takes a full day (or
more), and Cluster Immunotherapy taking an hour or more for every visit
Rush and Cluster Immunotherapy are commonly used for
people with venom allergy. This allows for quicker protection against
allergic reactions to future insect stings, and may actually be a safer
way to treat people with venom allergies who have had problem with
allergic reactions to their allergy shots.
have typical ways of giving allergy shots to their patients, and they
tend to offer this typical build-up style to all of their patients. Most
allergists do not simply give their patients the choice of
How are allergy shots given?
The method of immunotherapy consists of starting at a small dose that
will not cause an allergic reaction, with slowly advancing the dosage
until the person becomes tolerant to large amounts of the extract. These
injections are initially given once to twice a week until a maintenance,
or constant dose, is achieved. This usually takes approximately 3 to 6
months. Once the maintenance dosage is reached, the allergic symptoms
are largely resolved in most patients. Thereafter, the injections are
given every two to four weeks.
Are Allergy Shots Safe?
Allergy shots are really like vaccinations: They boost the defenses of the immune system to help the body block the allergic reaction. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced health professional, allergy shots are safe and effective and can be given to children as young as 4 or 5 years old.
Allergy shots, which are given year-round, work better against some substances than others. Generally, the shots are most effective against insect venoms and allergens that are inhaled, such as pollens, dust, molds, and animal dander.
When your child receives allergy shots, he or she may experience a reaction near the site of the injection. A patch of skin on the arm approximately the size of a quarter may itch and swell. This reaction is a signal that the body is responding to the allergen. You can treat this reaction by applying ice to the area and giving your child an antihistamine. More serious reactions, such as hives and itching all over your child's body or wheezing and breathing difficulties, are unusual and occur in less than 2% of patients.
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