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Why Bother with Allergy Shots?

Posted by Mark Bubak, M.D. on Jun 24, 2019 4:01:38 PM

Oh no—that 4-letter word: shot.

I get asked all the time, “why allergy shots?” when discussing treatment options for patients who struggle with allergies and asthma. That question is usually followed with, “I would rather just take a pill,” or, “don’t allergies just go away?”

Young woman wonders Why Allergy Shots?

 

There are totally different ways to treat allergies nowadays, including immunotherapy options, such as allergy shots and tabs placed under the tongue. These options help patients become less allergic, allowing patients to have fewer symptoms and take less medication over the course of decades. Allergy medications help when you take them, but when you stop all of your problems return. Immunotherapy, though, is a long-term solution that works to decrease the potency of your allergies. That’s an advantage allergy medication will never be able to provide, no matter how many pills you take.

It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider another drawback of allergy medication. If you struggle from allergies and use pills to manage them, you will end up using tons of pills throughout your life. For example, if you are a normal 10-year-old with dust mite and grass allergies, you can expect to take 822 bottles of nasal steroids and perhaps 25,002 daily allergy pills to stay comfortable. 

DAA-Why-Allergy-Shots_infographic2

With immunotherapy, however, you can expect on average a 70% reduction in your symptoms and a 50% reduction in medication usage. (422 less bottles of nose spray and 12,501 fewer pills.) Furthermore, a 10-year-old will only need allergy shots for 5 years, compared to about 68.5 years of medication usage. Immunotherapy also makes you less likely to develop new allergies or asthma, and it also reduces the likelihood for future generations in your family.

On the downside, allergy shots need to be administered in a clinic setting to maximize safety. It’s very rare, but occasionally patients develop anaphylaxis, which can be treated effectively in a clinic if this happens.

On the bright side, though, in addition to all of the benefits of immunotherapy, time spent in a clinic receiving allergy shots gives you time to study, read a book, catch up with friends and family, or just relax!

 

Our formal allergist guidelines for recommending allergy shots are:

  1. Allergic rhinitis or asthma symptoms despite medications and avoidance, especially if problems are over 3 months a year, or the patient doesn’t like taking medications.
  2. Anaphylaxis from wasps, yellow jackets, honeybees, or hornets

 

If you have lots of allergy and asthma problems, if you are sick of taking lots of medications, and if you want to decrease your risk of developing more allergies, consider immunotherapy and allergy shots. What do you have to lose?

 

SUMMARY

I get asked all the time, “why allergy shots?” when discussing treatment options for patients who struggle with allergies and asthma. If you have lots of allergy and asthma problems, if you are sick of taking lots of medications, and if you want to decrease your risk of developing more allergies, allergy shots are a great solution.

 

You might be interested in the short video: What are Allergy Shots?

Topics: immunotherapy, allergy shots