By Heather Legg
Many of you may have made a New Year’s Resolution to take of your allergies once and for all. If you have decided on allergy shots, you should know all that it entails. It’s a good idea to have a consultation with your allergist beforehand so you go into the shots knowing what to expect.
Although allergy shots have been proven to be extremely safe when given properly, they do have the potential for rare but serious reactions.
Remember, allergy shots consist of the allergen the patient is allergic to. That is why your allergist should have you or your child stay in the office for observation for at least 30 minutes after the shots.
The most common side effects are a local reaction at the site of the injection, namely swelling and itching. You can take an antihistamine, use ice, and elevate the arm immediately following the injection.
Some people also may experience allergy-like symptoms after an injection such as runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, and sneezing.
Anaphylaxis is rare but possible and the doctor (or staff) can watch for early signs and symptoms that may require emergency procedures and medications. If a severe reaction occurs, it usually will occur within 20 minutes of the shot and the reaction will usually respond to treatment with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).
In the event of a severe reaction, the doctor will also most likely reduce the dosage of allergen the next time your child gets an injection to allow his or her system to build immunity more gradually.
Sometimes allergists will work with pediatricians to administer shots, but it is always a good idea to let the trained allergist do the administering and monitoring. That way if any problems arise, a more trained professional will be there to help.
Knowing what to expect always makes a doctor’s appointment go better. At your consultation ask any questions, including how many sessions you will need, how often and any other side effects they may mention. Also, remember to allow time to wait afterwards each session of shots, so you can be monitored. If you have trouble finding an allergist, ask your pediatrician or friends or colleagues who may have used someone they would recommend. Best of luck!
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