Rush Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots)

April 03, 2014

Immunotherapy (allergy shots) involves injecting very small amounts of the substances causing allergic reactions and then building up to full immunizing doses. Rush immunotherapy is an accelerated form of immunotherapy that allows patients to see clinical improvements faster than traditional immunotherapy in less visits and less time that traditional immunotherapy.  There may be a higher risk of reactions with rush immunotherapy.

Traditional immunotherapy procedures consist of once or twice weekly injections of gradually increasing doses.  This results in reaching fully effective doses over 3 to 7 months.  Once full doses are achieved, maintenance doses are given. Patients usually notice improvement after 3 to 6 months. Approximately 7% of patients have a systemic reaction, approximately 0.5% of injections result in a systemic reaction.2

Rush immunotherapy procedures are designed to reach maintenance much faster than can be achieved with traditional immunotherapy. Patients are given allergy medications in advance and over 7 hours the doses are increased to about 1/10th of the full maintenance dose.  This avoids the first 17-18 visits for traditional immunotherapy and allows clinical improvement to occur much faster.  Full maintenance usually is reached within 6-8 weeks. One recent study of rush immunotherapy involving 2017 patients indicated that 2% had a systemic reaction and 1 had a severe reaction requiring epinephrine.

Potential advantages of rush immunotherapy:

  • More rapid clinical improvement
  • Many fewer visits for injections
  • Risks of adverse reactions similar to traditional immunotherapy

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Dr. Chacko and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN. See the video here.