New Year’s Resolution Series: How often should I get shots? (Part 2)

How often shotsA common question I get is, “How often should I get allergy shots?”

It depends. Here are two scenarios I use to illustrate.

First scenario: Let’s assume spring 2013 was miserable for you due to tree pollen allergies. If you were to be tested this week (January 2014), you only have a couple of months to build up before the start of tree pollen season. If you receive a shot three times per week, your shots may build up sufficiently to see a benefit before the end of this year’s tree season. If you opt for shots once a week, you are not likely to reach maintenance until the fall where shots will help with subsequent tree seasons.

Second scenario: Let’s assume ragweed season 2013 was miserable (usually late August through the first hard freeze) and you decide to get allergy tested this week. You have eight to nine months to build up on your allergy shots before the start of the 2014 ragweed season. You could receive shots at a frequency of once a week and still be built up for this year’s ragweed season.

What if year round allergies are your issue? The fact is, the sooner shots are built up to the red maintenance concentration, the sooner you can expect improvement. It is a balance between a more immediate gratification and the time commitment each week to receive a shot. (Watch for my upcoming blog on receiving your shots closer to where you live/work!)

After shots are built up to the red maintenance concentration, the shot visits start to spread out: usually every other week for six to 12 months, then every third week for six to 12 months, then once monthly till three to five years of maintenance shots are completed. After that, it’s time to assess if shots can be stopped.

Shots are an investment that can pay long term dividends. Talk with your allergist about the risks and benefits. Don’t wait until you are miserable and finally decide to get shots. Shots need a head start on the season. Resolve to get that head start this year!

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Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.

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