It’s time for my allergy shot, but I don’t wanna! If getting shots makes you nervous, watch this girl….a real trooper and funny at that:
Please review the following information on allergy shots…you’ll save some time and learn a lot.
Questions patients ask:
1. How often can I get shots? Once you are at the maintenance dose, you may receive shots every 2-4 weeks. Please adjust your shots based on your allergy symptoms. (ie, shots every 2 weeks during the spring/fall and every 4 weeks during the winter)
2. How long does it take to “build up?” I’m glad you asked that. You can build-up with weekly shots like we’ve always done it and take 4-6 months to reach the maintenance dose–conventional. If you want to reach the maximum benefit earlier, I prefer the “rapid desensitization” which will achieve maintenance in one month. Big difference in convenience!
3. What to do about local reactions? Don’t ignore them. Local swelling doesn’t mean you will develop more severe reactions, but talk to your allergy shot nurse about air lock, application of ice, diluting your serum, just to name a few. I want to know if your arm swells after your shots….the only bad question is–you get the hint.
4. Do shots really work?–I tell patients that after 3-5 years on allergy shots at high dilutions, 70 to 80% of patients don’t have to go back on injections. What this means is that symptoms of allergy go down and need for medication also goes down, leaving you free to enjoy the outdoors!
5. Here’s what allergy serum should look like at the maintenance concentration–if your serum is clear, you may not be receiving the full benefit of shots in the first place. Notice the dark, cola-colored allergy serum…should be your maintenance if tolerated.
Last but not least…..are shots safe long-term? This study published in 2011 is very encouraging. Association of subcutaneous allergen-specific immunotherapy with incidence of autoimmune disease, ischemic heart disease, and mortality. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2011. Subcutaneous allergen-specific immunotherapy (SCIT) is a well-documented treatment of IgE-mediated allergic disease. In this registry-based observational study, receiving SCIT (allergy shots) compared with medications only was associated with lower risk of autoimmune disease and heart disease, as well as decreased all-cause mortality (early death).
Sooo….pull up your sleeve and let’s get you feeling better!
For the last 100 years, the pioneering technique of subcutaneous allergen desensitization first developed by Noon and Freeman has proven quite resilient and, in fact, central to the practice of clinical allergy. It remains the only therapeutic modality by which long-term immune modification can be achieved and has afforded not only symptomatic relief to untold numbers of allergic patients, but also life-saving benefit in the case of venom hypersensitivity. So while we are indebted to generations of scientists and physicians for their outstanding contributions to the understanding of the mechanisms and clinical application of immunotherapy, we embrace the many new technological approaches that hold promise for the treatment of allergic patients and that perhaps one day may give rise to a cure for atopic diseases.