Conditions + Treatments

Immunotherapy In-Depth

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What is allergy immunotherapy?

Allergy immunotherapy—or allergy shots—increase your child's resistance to specific allergens by introducing small doses of each allergen into his or her bloodstream. These doses are increased slowly overtime. It is a very effective treatment.

How is allergy immunotherapy administered?

Shots must be given in a doctor's office. They are typically administered in to the upper arms at set intervals over a prolonged period of time. For a severe pollen allergy, for instance, your child might receive immunotherapy at regular intervals for four to five years.

In most cases, this will cause the allergic symptoms to decrease or disappear completely.

How often do we have to come for treatment?

You will initially have weekly visits, which will decrease to monthly visits.

What if my child is sick?

Allergy injections aren't given when your child is acutely ill. If your child has a cough, cold, fever or is wheezing, please call before coming in for injections.

Will my child have a reaction to the treatment?

It's possible, but not definite. It's important to report any unusual or serious reaction immediately. Your child will be kept under observation for 30 minutes following an injection. Any reactions occurring after that time are generally mild and can be treated at home. These can include itching, swelling or pain at the injection site. It's important to keep him or her from scratching or rubbing the site. Instead, apply an ice pack or cold compress.

How are severe reactions treated?

If your child experiences a reaction while at Children's, doctors may treat with antihistamines or epinephrine.

Is there anything I should tell my child's allergist before he receives his shots?

Report any changes in the following:

  • Medical condition, such as wheezing, a cold, a new illness or a pregnancy
  • Medications. Certain medications, including beta blockers and moa inhibitors, may increase the serious side effects of allergy therapy and should not be taken.
  • Beta-blockers:
    • Propanolol (Indural)
    • Atenolol (Tenormin)
  • Timolol eye drops (Timoptic)         
  • Acebutolol (Sectral)
  • MAO inhibitors:
    • Phenelzine (Nardil)
    • Tranylcypromine (Parnate)

Is there anything else I need to know about immunotherapy?

  • Wear loose fitting clothing to your appointment
  • Remain on schedule. If injections are interrupted for a prolonged period of time, we should be contacted before resuming injections.
  • Talk to your doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor about any unusual reactions to the previous shots.
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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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