Two quick pathways to allergy relief

Allergy shots are unique in that they make you less allergic to the pollen, dust mites, mold and/or animal dander you’re allergic to. They do this by helping your body to switch from an “allergic” response, to more of a “tolerance” response. In essence, your body no longer tries to fight off the allergens; instead, it learns how to ignore them. We have to start shots at a safe dose because you’re allergic, but the shots don’t help until you reach a high dose. After we finish building up your dose, you take a “maintenance dose,” usually once a month.

Since 1995, The Allergy Clinic has safely performed Rush on over 3,000 patients. This one-day procedure provides very rapid desensitization, getting you to that highest dose, or at least 90 percent of the way, in one eight-hour day, providing quicker relief of symptoms. Rush is a great procedure for those with busy schedules who would find it difficult to come in at least once a week for up to six months, which is what is typically required with more traditional methods of building to the high or “maintenance dose.”

But what if you can’t spend the entire day in our office? Or what if you can only come on Saturday mornings? Cluster is also a great option, and is almost as fast as Rush. With Cluster, we essentially do a series of “mini-rush;” that is, we give a set of allergy shots, observe the patient, then give another set of allergy shots, again observe the patient, and then give a final set of allergy shots for that day. So you spend 1.5 or 2 hours in our office, once or twice a week, for a total of 8 or 9 visits before you reach your maintenance dose.

With Rush, we have patients take several medications for three days beforehand to reduce the chance of severe allergic reactions. With Cluster, you only pre-medicate with antihistamines. That’s because your immune system has at least 36 hours to process the previous set of shots, so the risk of having allergic reactions to the shots is less.

All insurance companies, excluding Medicare, cover Rush and Cluster, but there are some limitations. For instance, Humana will only cover it if we desensitize the patient to stinging insects, or to drugs (e.g., penicillin); however, Humana excludes coverage for the Rush or Cluster if it is done for airborne allergens, such as ragweed or dust mites.

Rapid allergy desensitization procedures such as Rush or Cluster are safe, effective options that are covered well by insurance companies and get your dose of shots where you receive relief much more quickly.

No one nose allergies like we do.™

Note: Information contained in this article should not be considered a substitute for consultation with a board-certified allergist to address individual medical needs.


Alnoor A. Malick, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI Dr. Malick is board-certified in allergy and immunology and oversees the formulation of allergen immunotherapy at The Allergy Clinic. He was nominated by his physician peers and voted by the readers of H Texas Magazine as Best Allergist/Immunologist in Houston five years in a row.

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