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Are there any side effects to allergy shots?

Published on Nov 30, 2011 with 0 comment

Allergy shots have been given for many decades, and they have provided allergy relief to probably millions of allergy sufferers, both young and old.  Allergy shots are an important component to a comprehensive allergy treatment plan.  It is a long term treatment lasting several years, but the potential allergy relief they give can last many years, and sometimes for a lifetime.

Allergy shots, when given under the supervision of a board certified allergist are, for the most part, very safe.  However, there are two potential side effects to an allergy injection.

The most common allergy reaction to an allergy shot is a local reaction.  A local reaction will result in an area of redness, swelling, and heat at and around the injection site.  These reactions can vary in size from a very small area of swelling the size of a quarter, to the size of a baseball.  This reaction may occur within a few minutes or may be delayed for several hours.  These reactions, although sometimes uncomfortable, are generally not dangerous.  Local reactions are generally treated with a cold pack and sometimes antihistamines.  Most require no treatment and are usually self-limited, resolving over several hours.  If a large local reaction does occur, it is very important that one tell the allergy nurse prior to receiving another injection as the dose of the next shot may need to be modified.

Albeit rare, an allergy injection can precipitate a serious systemic allergic reaction resulting in nasal and eye symptoms, itching, hives, and difficulty breathing.  A severe reaction can progress into anaphylaxis.  The onset of symptoms in this type of allergy reaction is likely to occur within just a few minutes of the injection.  Generally, the sooner the onset of symptoms, the more severe the reaction is likely to be.  If one feels the onset of any of these symptoms, he or she should notify the nurse or doctor immediately.  It is because of this unlikely event that all patients must wait in a medical facility for at least 20-30 minutes after receiving an allergy shot.  Allergy shots should never be given at home and one should never give themselves an allergy injection!

In order to minimize the likelihood of an allergy reaction to an allergy shot, one should not take an injection if they are presently having significant allergy symptoms or asthma symptoms. One should inform the allergy nurse of all existing symptoms prior to an injection.  Although allergy shots can sometimes be prone to side effects, they have proven themselves to be a source of relief to millions of allergy sufferers.


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