The A, B, C’s of Allergy Shots

Allergy ShotsIn the ongoing battle with seasonal and chronic symptoms like sneezing, itchy throat and watery eyes, many different forms of treatment have been developed. Avoiding allergens that trigger attacks is the most obvious, but not always easy to do. Medications like antihistamines can also help, and in individuals who don’t respond to any of these, allergy shots may be the answer.

So what exactly are these shots and how do they work to reduce or even eliminate symptoms? They are a series of shots that contain a small amount of whatever substance your doctor has determined to be a trigger for your symptoms. Triggers can be anything from grass and weed pollen to dust or pet dander.

After running either a skin prick test or a blood test to determine your particular trigger or triggers, your doctor can than formulate a shot for you that contains those triggers. The shots are then administered over a lengthy period of time, first weekly and then monthly. The entire course of the shot treatment can last for as much as 3 to 5 years before they are completely successful.

The reason that these shots need to be given over a period of time is to enable your immune system to build up a response to the substance that is your trigger. As you are gradually exposed to a small amount of trigger substance in each shot, you produce antibodies to help fight the effects of the allergen. Once your body learns to respond in this way, it will be more likely to do so each time it is exposed to that particular trigger, thereby lessening your symptoms.

Shots can be used to treat many different kinds of allergies, including those to pollen, ragweed, certain drugs and even bee stings. Because these shots involve exposure to the trigger substance, they are generally considered the last form of defense after other methods have been tried and deemed unsuccessful. You’ll probably need to stay in your doctor’s office for a short while after receiving each shot in case you have a reaction to the shot itself.

Not everyone is an ideal candidate for allergy shots. Individuals with heart conditions and severe asthma may not be able to tolerate this kind of exposure to trigger substances. Pregnant women and children under age 5 are also not able to be treated this way. As with any treatment, you should never proceed with these shots without your doctor’s recommendation.

Though being exposed to trigger substances makes some people leery of getting allergy shots, they are generally quite safe and can provide a long term solution to unpleasant chronic symptoms. It may take some time before you notice positive results, so be patient. Most people don’t begin to get relief until they’ve had at least six months of treatment.

There is no reason to live with the discomfort and potentially serious threat caused by allergies. If standard methods of treatment don’t work for you, talk to your doctor about getting allergy shots to help retrain your body and defend against common triggers so you can get back to enjoying life again!

Wishing you the best of health

 

 

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