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What Is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy (also called allergy shots) is treatment to reduce a person’s allergic reaction to allergens, such as pet dander, dust mites, molds, bee stings, or pollen. A health care provider gives the patient a series of shots that contain the allergens that the patient is sensitive to. Shots are given once or twice a week over a period of several months, starting with a small dose and increasing the dose over time. Gradually, the person’s body grows less sensitive to the allergens. The goal is to get to a point where the body no longer has an allergic reaction. Then treatment is continued with a monthly shot for three to five years.

Your doctor might recommend immunotherapy if you have allergic asthma that is hard to control or if you can’t take controller medicines.

Immunotherapy isn’t for everyone. For example, people with certain heart problems, uncontrolled asthma, or those on beta-blockers may not be appropriate candidates for immunotherapy, and may not respond well to the emergency treatment needed in case of a serious reaction.