Venom Immunotherapy FAQs

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What is Venom Immunotherapy (VIT)?
VIT is a series of injections that introduce minute amounts of venom into your body. The amount is gradually increased over time to help your immune system build a tolerance to the venom proteins. This process is continued until your body has enough immunity to be able to tolerate a sting without your body “overreacting”.

How effective is VIT?
VIT has been found to be 95 to 97% effective in reducing the risk of systemic reaction in stinging insect allergic patients.1,2

How long does VIT take?
The build-up phase, during which the amount of venom protein is gradually increased, generally ranges from three to six months. The frequency of injections during the build-up phase is usually once or twice a week.
The maintenance phase begins when an effective therapeutic dosage is reached, at which time injections are given less frequently (every two to four weeks). The allergist will determine the necessary duration and frequency of injections for each patient.

While undergoing VIT, your allergist will also provide you with a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector. If you do experience an insect sting prior to building up immunity to the venom, epinephrine can counteract the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction by constricting the blood vessels and opening the airways. Oftentimes a second dose of epinephrine is needed within 10-15 minutes, so it’s important that you also seek medical treatment immediately.

What are the risks involved with VIT?
There are risks involved with VIT. Most can be easily treated by your allergist and their staff. Be sure to discuss all possible risks with your allergist before deciding on the right treatment for you.

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1 Valentine MD, Schuberth KC, Kagey-Sobotka A, Graft DF, Kwiterovich KA, Szklo M, et al. The value of immunotherapy with venom in children with allergy to insect stings. N Engl J Med. 1990; 323:1601-3.
2 Valentine MD. Anaphylaxis and stinging insect hypersensitivity. JAMA 1992; 268:2830-2833.