Step One: You’ve tried the antihistamines, nose sprays, sinus rinses, and just about everything offered over the counter for your allergies – now what? At Relieve Allergy we identify your allergies with skin testing on your back. A medical assistant takes small plastic prongs to dot your skin with over 75 allergens specific to Arizona. Your back may become a little itchy but we’ll keep a close watch over you for 15 minutes. If you have an allergic reaction we are fully equipped to take care of you in the office. The medical assistant will then measure each dot to determine how reactive you are to each allergen. After we clean the dots off your back you are ready to schedule an appointment with Josie, our nurse practitioner, to review your results in a couple of days.
Step Two: At your follow up appointment we will review all the allergies you tested positive to and how to avoid them. We then recommend allergen immunotherapy, or what most people call “allergy shots.” Shots may sound uncomfortable, but we have tips and tricks to make them as comfortable as we can in addition to using the smallest needle possible. It looks like a TB needle if you’ve ever seen one. Some people don’t realize they’ve gotten a shot (even Dr. Wendt’s needle-phobic daughter doesn’t mind). One of our tricks is to rotate arms and to use creams or ice on the site. Shots change the way the immune system reacts to allergens by building a tolerance, which decreases symptoms or gets rid of them altogether. Allergy shots are a commitment because it involves the regular administration of gradually increasing doses of allergen extracts, usually over a period of several years. We have flexible hours in order to accommodate your busy schedule. If you are improving we get you to the point of only needing to come in 12 times per year for a quick injection. We offer two programs, “regular injections” and “rapid injections”. Both are great options that Josie will counsel you on in regards to your symptoms, schedule, and comfort level. The first option moves at a regular pace, and the second is able to get you to the best concentration within a few months. After your follow up you will sign a consent form to get started!
Step Three: We have an awesome physician, Dr. Wendt, who has been mixing personalized allergy serum in her lab for years. She uses a special hood to maintain a sterile environment and combines all your allergens into vials. Once she has your serum mixed you are ready to start your shots the next week!
Step Four: Go ahead and call our receptionists, Brianna and Sharon. They will get you on the schedule when you’re ready to start. Before coming in, make sure you take an antihistamine and bring your epipen with you. We require you to carry an epipen at all your visits as a precautionary in case you have an allergic reaction. You are not allowed to receive allergy shots if you are sick or recently received your COVID vaccine. We have a separate waiting room attached to our regular waiting room that you will go to. Kayleigh is our designated injectionist who will come up to the window to give you your shots. You will then wait for 30 minutes if you’re receiving regular allergy shots to ensure you don’t have an allergic reaction. If you are doing rapid allergy shots Josie will educate you on some extra precautions. That’s it! You’ve officially made it through your first round of allergy shots and we’ll see you for your next one!
Frequently Asked Questions
How quickly does immunotherapy work, and how long does it last? Everyone is different, but typically we like to wait at least four to six months to see significant improvement. Three years of immunotherapy can result in five to ten years of benefits.
How are injections dosed? Injections start with a very low dose to prevent an allergic reaction. The dose gradually increases on a regular basis until your maximum dose is reached. We keep track of the doses by coloring the tops of the vials. When you come in for your shots you can have Kayleigh show you all the colors so you can keep track of where you’re at.
Can I still continue my current allergy treatment AND do immunotherapy? Yes! You may continue to take antihistamines, nose sprays, nasal rinses, and eye drops as needed. Talk to Josie or Dr. Wendt about additional therapies they recommend.
Are there potential reactions to immunotherapy? Yes, reactions include swelling at the site of injection, itchy eyes, itchy nose, itchy throat or chest, wheezing. Tell us as soon as possible if this is happening to you. The biggest risk with immunotherapy is anaphylaxis. We will educate you about signs of anaphylaxis and how to use an epipen so you feel safe during treatment. If you go into anaphylaxis at our office we are fully equipped to monitor your vital signs, administer medication, and provide breathing treatments as needed. We always have a physician or nurse practitioner present during office hours.
What if I am going on vacation or traveling for work? We get this question ALL the time! Do not worry about vacations or traveling – we have an algorithm in the back that tells us how to safely dose your shot based on how long it’s been since you received your last one.
I am a snow bird. Can I still do shots? Absolutely! We have a “vials out” form for you to fill out. You can find any medical practitioner who is willing to administer shots and monitor you for signs of anaphylaxis. Once you give us the information we will send you with your serum when it’s time to go.
What if the office is fine for a visit or two, but too far for regular allergy shot visits? Same answer as stated above. We can do “vials out” and any medical practitioner of your choosing can administer immunotherapy.
Are allergy shots expensive? One of our medical assistants handles insurance and prior authorization. She is happy to join in on your follow up appointment to go over specific costs with your insurance plan and provide you with the numbers. If you are suffering or missing sleep or work from allergies, consider it a valuable investment in your health.
Who cannot receive allergy immunotherapy? Immunotherapy is typically not started under the age of 5. It is difficult for smaller children to communicate side effects they may be having from the shots. Immunotherapy is not initiated in our clinic if you are pregnant, BUT it can be continued if you become pregnant during maintenance therapy.
What if I am breastfeeding? There are no contraindications to immunotherapy and breastfeeding.