Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy
Allergy testing helps identify specific substances that trigger allergic reactions in your body. We test for 39 allergens which are commonly present in the indoor and outdoor air of the Pacific Northwest. These include dust mites, dogs, cats, pollen (trees, grasses, weeds), and molds.
How Allergy Shots Work: Allergy shots work by gradually exposing your immune system to small amounts of the allergens in the extract. Over time, this helps your body build tolerance to the substances, reducing your allergic response. It essentially teaches your immune system to be less reactive to the allergens.
What to expect
Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy):
If you have moderate to severe allergies and they are interfering with your daily life, your doctor may recommend allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy. Allergy shots are a long-term treatment that can significantly reduce your allergy symptoms or even eliminate them altogether. Here's how it works:
Allergen Extract Preparation: Once your specific allergens are identified through allergy testing, a personalized allergen extract is prepared for you. This extract contains small amounts of the substances you are allergic to.
Consistent Allergy Shots: You will receive a series of weekly allergy shots at our office with the dose gradually increasing over time. This process is called the "build-up" or “escalation phase” and usually lasts 5-20 weeks, depending on your level of allergy. After you reach a certain dose, you'll enter the "maintenance phase." During this phase, you will be able to take the allergy shots home and administer them to yourself after we teach you how to do so. The maintenance phase typically lasts about 4 years. Some highly allergic patients may require longer term therapy to relieve their symptoms.
Throughout the process, your doctor will closely monitor your progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed. You may start noticing improvement in your allergy symptoms after six months of treatment, but benefits often take longer to develop fully. Treatment continues for 4 years in order to make the positive changes last in the long-term.
Allergy shots can be a game-changer for managing allergies, but they require commitment and patience. Being able to administer your own shots at home makes the process less complicated and easier to continue. Consistency in receiving the shots is essential for successful outcomes.
Patients who may benefit
Patients who suffer with allergic rhinitis symptoms (classic “hay fever”): sneezing, runny nose, “stuffy” nose, post-nasal drip, itchy or watery eyes
Patients who experience symptoms that are less recognized as allergies: headaches, chronic cough or hoarseness, ear fullness or pain, dizziness, facial pain or pressure, chronic sinus infections, sleep disturbances, fatigue, reduced productivity or “brain fog”
Patients with allergic asthma
If your allergy symptoms are not well-controlled despite attempts to manage them with medications and allergen avoidance, then testing and treatment are the next step.