Allergy shots, also known as allergen immunotherapy, is an effective way of treating allergy related problems. People who suffer from allergies caused by allergens like dust mites, stinging insects, mold spores, pollens, animal dander, etc., can be cured completely with this treatment method. However, allergy shots are not effective in treating allergies caused by food. These allergy shots are a series of shots that are given to a person over a period of time. This effective way of allergy treatment is a tried and tested method, and is considered to be very safe.
However, there have been certain cases where dangerous side effects have been caused after the administration of these shots. Nevertheless, before we begin talking about the allergy shots side effects, let us know more in detail about allergy shots, and how they actually work in reducing the allergy related problems in people.
Who Can be Given Allergy Shots?
People who are allergic to certain things take allergy medications that help in reducing the symptoms. However, individuals who suffer from severe allergies do not find any relief even after taking these medications. In such cases, allergy shots come in as the savior.
There are also cases where allergy medications lead to the development of some other type of allergies in individuals, or they may react with the medications that people take for some other health problem. For all such reasons, it is better to opt for allergy shots. Some people do not like the idea of consuming medicines for a long time, and so choose these allergy shots. Even children above the age of five who suffer from some kind of allergy can be given allergy shots.
Although allergy shots are considered to be better than allergy medicines, there are certain groups of people who should stay away from these shots. Individuals who have asthma problems, high blood pressure, heart or lung diseases, glaucoma, or take certain drugs like beta blockers, should not go for allergy shots as they may lead to dangerous consequences. Moreover, even pregnant women should avoid beginning this treatment as they may have long term side effects on the fetus. Nevertheless, if you become pregnant while you are getting these allergy shots, you do not have to discontinue with the treatment.
Allergy Shots Effectiveness
Allergy shots are given for a period of 6 months to one year, once or twice each week. However, you will not feel the difference immediately, rather it is a slow and gradual process. These allergy shots consist of substances that the person is allergic to. Initially these are found in very small quantities, gradually increasing in quantity with every shot.
These shots help in sensitizing the immune system, due to which it becomes tolerant to the allergens, thus reducing the allergic symptoms that the person experiences. After one year of allergy shots, the patient is given maintenance shots which continues till the third year. By this time, the allergy symptoms becomes less or sometimes disappear completely. People who do not find much difference have to continue with the maintenance shots for a longer time.
Before the doctor starts with the immunotherapy, the patient has to go through a thorough medical check up. The specialist will conduct medical tests and also will ask about the patient’s medical history. The patient also has to go through certain allergy tests to determine the particular allergen that he is allergic to.
Allergy Shots Side Effects
Though the side effects of allergy shots are very rare, there have been certain cases where people have reacted badly to allergy shots. So, if you are thinking of taking allergy shots, you have the right to know about its potential side effects before starting the treatment process.
The most common of the side effects of allergy shots is the feeling of itchiness on the area where the shot is given (mostly on the upper arm). The area may also turn reddish in color. However, these allergy shots reactions are not very dangerous, and go away after some hours. If it persists, the doctor should be consulted immediately.
Some people may experience reactions similar to having an allergy after they have received the allergy shots. These include itchiness of the skin, nasal congestion, coughing, watery eyes, sneezing, hives, etc. These reactions may get worse, leading to problems like wheezing, throat swelling, and sometimes chest congestion too.
The most severe side effect of allergy shots is anaphylaxis. In such cases, the person may suffer from low blood pressure and may experience dizziness. The individual may have irregular heart beat, and there are also chances of him becoming unconscious. It may also turn fatal for the person. As these allergy shots side effects can rarely also be dangerous, the patient is asked to stay for half an hour at the doctor’s clinic or hospital after been given the allergy shot.
This ensures that if any side effect triggers in the person, he will be given appropriate treatment at once. However, if such reactions appear after the patient has left the clinic, he should take an antihistamine and immediately rush to the emergency room to avoid serious consequences.