Allergy Shots: How Do They Help Our Bodies Fight Allergies

By staff

Most people do not like taking shots of any kind. They usually stem from a fear we form about them as children. Yet, if you are a year long allergy sufferer or if your allergy symptoms are extreme, an allergy shot may be your best line of defense against your allergies.

First, before you can take an allergy shot, you and your doctor must be fully aware what your allergies are. This means you will have to take an allergy test. Most doctors prefer using the patch method for testing for allergies over the older fashioned method of testing with injections. The patch will contain several common allergies. It is then placed on your skin and left on, usually for 48 hours. The doctor then looks at your skin area where the patch laid.  If any area is red, blotchy or itchy this signals that you are allergic to the substance that was located on that area of the patch. It is that simple. The hardest part is keeping the patch on your skin, at times.

Now that your doctor fully knows what your allergens are, an allergy shot may be an option for you.

What is an allergy shot? An allergy shot is like a vaccine. It contains small amounts of allergens. Allergens are the substance or substances that cause your allergies. Very common allergens are dust mites, molds, and pollen. If you are allergic to pollen, then your shot would contain a small amount of pollen.

After a shot is given, the body will begin making antibodies to this allergen. Then when you come into contact with this allergen again, your body can naturally fight it with its own antibody that was formed because of the shot. Each time you get an allergy shot, more antibodies are formed and the body becomes better at fighting the allergen. This means with each shot, you have less allergic reactions and fewer symptoms when you come into contact with the allergen.

But be warned that allergy shots are not for everyone. People with severe asthma or heart problems should not get allergy shots. Also you need to make sure that your doctor and allergist knows all the medications you are taking. Not all medications works with allergy shots, an example is beta blockers. Pregnant women also shouldn’t take allergy shots.

Generally, people who decide to try allergy shots as a form of treatment for their allergies, begin treatment by taking many shots. Usually, for the first few weeks you will be given 1 to 2 shots a week. Then you will get one a shot a week for about six months.  From then on, you may only need a shot once a month.

Of course, treatment will vary from person to person. Treatment will depend on how many allergens you have, the severity and even possibly your overall health condition and age.

Allergy shots are usually safe. The most common side effect is swelling at the site of the injection. Rarely, anaphylaxis may occur. This is the reason why doctors ask you to wait around in their offices for about twenty minutes after taking the shot. Then if a reaction happens your doctor can give you something to stop it.

- Linda McCloud

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December 21st, 2012 | 6:49 pm
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