NJ Allergy Doctors Blog

Pros and Cons of Allergy Shots

Chris S - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Getting an injection every week or two for the next few years of your life may not sound like a picnic, but what if this simple step decreased your allergy symptoms, helped you feel better, and ultimately, gave you back your life? 

Allergy shots, sometimes called allergy vaccines, desensitization shots or hyposensitization shots, are injections that contain small amounts of allergens. The allergens used in the shots are different for everyone, as they are based on the types of dander and seasonal elements that you or your child is allergic to. The goal is to increase the tolerance to these allergens over time so that you no longer react strongly to them.

Allergy shots follow a very strict schedule in order to be safe, effective and efficient. The schedule is different for everyone. In most cases, patients start with one or two shots a week, but this can vary based on the number of allergenso keep on schedule, many patients opt to have the injections several times a month. Allergy shots can be a wonderful option, but they are not for everyone. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor about what’s right for you or your child.

Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons to allergy vaccines.

What are the Pros?

      High chance of success

      Fewer symptoms

      Less need for allergy medications

      Less need for antibiotics

      Fewer trips to the doctor

      Improved quality of life

      Ability to enjoy the outdoors, have a pet, etc.

      More control over your health

      Better immunity from not being run down with allergies

      Can be effective when medications are not

      May prevent allergy-related asthma

      May prevent the development of new allergies

      Safe for children as young as 5 years

What are the Cons?

      Takes time to build up a tolerance

      Local reactions are common, such as itching, redness or swelling

      Shot schedule is a time commitment

      Can be costly; not all insurance plans cover allergy shots

      Not safe for patients taking beta blockers

      Regular shots could cause anxiety (more common in children)

Making the decision to start allergy vaccines is a personal one, but an allergist can help in the decision-making process. Patients must weigh many things, such as the length of treatment and the commitment it involves. For many patients, though, living a life with severe allergy symptoms and frequent sinus infections is not enjoyable, and allergy shots prove to be the safest, most effective treatment solution. And for children, these shots can avoid further allergies from developing, as well as allergy-induced asthma, which could mean saving a life. 

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