If you have been suffering from allergic reactions and are planning to opt for allergy shots, it’s better to get equipped with the facts about immunotherapy! Though allergy shots are believed to be safe, they can have some serious side effects.
Did you know?
A patient is asked to stay at least for half an hour at the doctor’s clinic or hospital after being injected with an allergy shot. This is done to ensure that he receives immediate treatment if a side effect of the shot triggers.
Shots administered during the allergen immunotherapy are effective in treating allergy related problems. Allergies caused by allergens like dust mites, stinging insects, mold spores, pollens, animal dander, etc., can be cured completely with this treatment. A series of shots are given to a person over a period of time. This effective way of allergy treatment is a tried and tested method, and is generally considered to be very safe. However, there have been certain cases where dangerous side effects developed after the administration of these shots.
If you are thinking of opting immunotherapy, you should make yourself aware about its potential side effects before starting the treatment. Let us understand more about its fallouts.
After the initial administration of the shot, a patient may feel nauseated and dizzy.
Inflammation and Itchiness
The most common side effect is the feeling of itchiness in and around the area where the shot is given (mostly on the upper arm). The injected area may also turn reddish in color and become warm. Remember, do not scratch or massage the site of injection. These reactions are not very dangerous, and will go away after some hours. If it persists, consult your doctor immediately.
The most severe side effect of allergy shots is anaphylaxis. It causes the blood pressure to drop. Also, it blocks and contracts the airways. It may lead to a weak pulse, skin inflammation, vomiting, etc. It may also escalate to a severe anaphylactic shock. If medical treatment is not given on time, it may cause unconsciousness and even death in extreme cases. However, if such reactions appear after the patient has left the clinic, he should take an antihistamine and immediately rush to the emergency room to avoid serious consequences.
Allergy shots can also lead to angioedema which causes swelling of face, mouth, tongue, lips, etc. It also causes swelling of throat and respiratory airway which leads to difficulty in speaking, swallowing and breathing.
One of the most uncommon side effects of immunotherapy is the drop in the blood pressure levels.
Administration of the allergy shots may also cause a flare-up of your usual allergic reactions.
- Tightness in chest
- Throat discomfort
- Nasal congestion
- Watery eyes
- Increased heart rate
- Abdominal cramping
Even though people have reported suffering from infertility, bone loss, weight gain, hair loss, etc. after getting an allergy shot, there is very limited clinical data to establish and support a relation between them.
If you are administering allergy shots which have steroids, then it may lead to obesity (due to water retention), increased appetite, insomnia, eye problems, heart problems, increased blood pressure, mood swings, etc.
Need for Immunotherapy
People who are allergic to certain things take oral medications that help in reducing allergic symptoms. However, individuals who suffer from severe allergies do not find any relief even after taking these medications. In such cases, immunotherapy comes to their rescue. There have been cases where allergy medications led to the development of some other type of allergies in the individuals. Moreover, drugs for allergy are also known to react with other medications. That’s why, some people opt for immunotherapy over oral medications for allergies. Children above the age of five who suffer from some kind of allergy can also get these shots.
Although these shots are considered to be better than allergy medicines, people with certain conditions should stay away from these shots. Individuals who have asthma problems, high blood pressure, heart or lung diseases, glaucoma, or consume drugs like beta blockers, should not opt for allergy shots as they may have dangerous consequences. Moreover, even pregnant women should avoid this treatment as it may adversely affect the unborn child. Nevertheless, if you become pregnant while undergoing immunotherapy, you may continue the treatment if your doctor suggests so.
A patient has to undergo certain allergy tests to diagnose the particular allergen that he is allergic to. Immunotherapy is given for a period of 6 months to one year, once or twice each week. However, the patient will not feel the difference immediately, as it is a slow and gradual process. These shots contain substances (allergens) that the person is allergic to. Initially, these allergens are administered via injection in a very small quantity. However, the quantity is increased gradually with every shot. These shots help in sensitizing the immune system, due to which it becomes tolerant of the allergens, thus reducing the allergic symptoms that the person experiences.
After one year, the patient is given maintenance shots which continues till the third year. By this time, the allergy symptoms reduce or disappear completely. People who do not experience much difference in the allergy symptoms have to continue with the maintenance shots for a longer period. Before the doctor starts the immunotherapy, the patient has to go through a thorough medical check up. A specialist will conduct a series of medical tests and also study the patient’s medical history.
You need to take extra precautions before opting for this treatment to cure allergic reactions. Consult only an experienced allergist or immunologist and see to it that he/she conducts all the necessary tests on you before giving you the shots. Taking the necessary precautions and maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising will not only ensure that you are safe from the dangerous side effects, but also help in making your treatment effective.
Disclaimer ~ This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.