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Will Allergy Shots Help My Asthma

Can Children Receive Treatment

Healthbeat – Asthma and Allergy Shots

Yes, allergy shots are safe for kids. In fact, immunotherapy may help kids avoid developing other allergies or asthma as they get older.

Immunotherapy is safe for children 5 years of age or older. They may be administered even earlier if a board-certified allergist or immunologist determines its appropriate.

How Long Do I Take Allergy Shots

A course of allergy shots often lasts 3-6 years. Allergy shots begin with a very low dose, then are built up gradually on a regular basis until a therapeutic or maintenance dose is achieved. The highest tolerated maintenance doses are given every 3 weeks. It is important to maintain allergy shots at the proper time interval. Missing allergy shots for a short vacation or for some other acute medical problem is acceptable.

You will be re-evaluated occasionally with skin testing while on allergy shots and subsequent changes in the extract or schedule may be necessary to obtain the best results. We will usually consider discontinuing injections when you have minimum symptoms and have a normal or near-normal exam for at least one year.

Most patients will continue to do well after stopping allergy shots, and some will have a slight increase in symptoms controllable with medications. A small number of patients, however, will require resumption of allergy injections. Other guidelines are used for stopping shots when used for asthma and insect sting reaction.

How Do Allergy Shots Work

Allergy shots work by gradually exposing your immune system to the specific substances youre allergic to, therefore, training it not to react or cause symptoms. If you start immunotherapy, youll go into your allergist office for treatment over several years.

During the appointments, you receive an injection filled with your specific allergen. Your allergist uses a very limited dose of the allergen at first, then increases it slowly over time. The goal of the treatment is to create an immunity or desensitization to the allergen.

When immunotherapy first begins, youll see your allergist once or twice weekly. This is called the build-up phase because youre building up the amount of the allergen in your system. You will eventually reach a maintenance dose, which is the maximum dose and concentration for your allergens that is considered optimal for therapeutic response.

Once youre on the maintenance dose, your allergist visits for injections will decrease in frequency in a sequential pattern over time until eventually you will reduce to just monthly appointments. This maintenance phase usually lasts for three to five years for the best therapeutic benefit and long-term relief of your symptoms.

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Key Points To Remember

  • There is no cure for allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma. But allergy shots may provide long-term relief of symptoms.
  • Allergy shots will probably help you. They are effective for most people and can reduce symptoms if you are allergic to pollens, animal dander, dust mites, mold, or cockroaches.footnote 1 Allergy shots may prevent children with allergic rhinitis from getting asthma.footnote 1
  • You need to take allergy shots for 3 to 5 years.
  • You cannot be sure how long the shots will be effective after you stop getting them. For allergies to some grasses, shots have been effective for 3 or 4 years.footnote 1
  • If you have coronary artery disease, are using beta-blockers, are pregnant, are not able to communicate how the shots are working, or have an impaired immune system, allergy shots may not be recommended.
  • Children may use allergy shots if they have persistent asthma made worse by allergens.
  • Children younger than 2 should not have allergy shots.
  • Children ages 3 to 4 may find it hard to have to get many shots over a long period of time. Talk with your doctor.
  • Your child’s asthma needs to be well controlled before he or she gets allergy shots.

What are the risks and side effects?

  • The shots usually work to relieve allergy symptoms.
  • You can take medicine to control allergy or asthma symptoms, and you can try to avoid the allergen.
  • You will avoid having shots.
  • You won’t have to spend the money on a long series of shots.
  • You won’t have to travel to a clinic for regular shots.

Learn More About Allergy Shots From Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center

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For more information about allergy treatment and prevention contact any of the 11 Charlotte, NC offices of the Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center. The offices are staffed allergists that are board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. Get in touch with us today to schedule your appointment.

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How Long Do They Take To Work

It varies from patient to patient. Some find relief from symptoms in just a few months during the build-up phase. Others require a full year of consistent treatment to see significant improvement.

You should talk to your doctor if youre concerned that your symptoms arent going away. Adjusting your shot schedule or slightly reformulating your medicine may help.

Antihistamines Can Make Allergy Shots Easier

Taking an oral antihistamine before each shot can help reduce side effects and reactions. “We really encourage patients to take them beforehand, especially as they get closer to their maintenance dose and their local reactions can get pretty bad,” says Dr. Dziadzio.

And if that’s not enough reason to pop a pill beforehand, some research even suggests that pre-treatment with an antihistamine during the build-up phase of allergy shots can improve the shots’ effectiveness too.

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What Kind Of Allergy Shots Do I Need

The kind of shot you get depends on what youre allergic to. Before starting treatment, youll be tested to identify exactly what substances trigger your symptoms and determine what goes into your treatment.

For example, if you experience a lot of symptoms in the spring, you may have a pollen allergy. Youll be tested to determine exactly what type of pollen your immune system is reacting to. Your immunologist will then formulate allergy shots that are made just for you.

What Are Allergic Rhinitis And Allergic Asthma

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Allergic rhinitis occurs when your immune system overreacts to particles in the air that you breatheâyou are allergic to them. Your immune system attacks the particles, causing symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. The particles are called allergens, which simply means that they can cause an allergic reaction.

Asthma is a long-lasting condition that causes wheezing, trouble breathing, tightness in the chest, and coughing. When allergens such as pollens, dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches, and mold make your symptoms worse, it is known as allergic asthma.

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What Matters Most To You

Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.

Reasons to choose allergy shots

Reasons not to choose allergy shots

I want to do whatever possible to relieve my symptoms even if I don’t know how long the shots will work.

I don’t want allergy shots if I can’t be sure how long they will work.

Can Everyone Get Allergy Shots

Most people over the age of 5 can get allergy shots. You should not get them if you have severe asthma or heart problems, or take beta blockers. You also should not get them if you are pregnant. Talk to your doctor if you have been taking allergy shots for some time and become pregnant. You may be able to keep taking them.

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Treatments To Help Allergies And Asthma

Most treatments target either asthma or allergies. Some methods specifically treat symptoms related to allergic asthma.

  • Montelukast is a medication primarily prescribed for asthma that can help with both allergy and asthma symptoms. Its taken as a daily pill and helps to control your bodys immune reaction.
  • Allergy shots work by introducing small amounts of the allergen into your body. This allows your immune system to build up tolerance. This approach is also called immunotherapy. It usually requires a series of regular injections over several years. The optimal number of years has not been determined, but most people receive injections for at least three years.
  • Anti-immunoglobulin E immunotherapy targets the chemical signals that cause the allergic reaction in the first place. Its usually only recommended for people with moderate to severe persistent asthma, for whom standard therapy has not worked. An example of anti-IgE therapy is omalizumab .

Are Allergy Shots Right For You

allergy

While we recommend you visit your doctor or allergist to ascertain whether youre a good candidate for allergy shots, these questions will also help you decide:

  • What are your allergies? If youre allergic to one or more of the substances listed above, then allergy shots can help lessen your symptoms. However, if you have an allergy to latex, drugs, or certain foods, immunotherapy is not recommended.
  • How bad are your allergies? If symptoms persist for longer than three out of 12 months or are impacting your daily activities then allergy shots may provide more relief than other treatment methods.
  • What other treatments have you tried? If youre on a prescription antihistamine or another medication from an allergist but these dont help your symptoms, let your allergist know. They could recommend immunotherapy as your next treatment.
  • Are you okay with needles? If you have a severe fear of or significant discomfort associated with needles, then you might want to rethink allergy shots. While its true the injections become less frequent as the treatment goes on, it will take a while to get there. You may want to discuss sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT with your allergist. This treatment involves you taking tablets or drops under your tongue instead of receiving injections.

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Safety Of Allergy Shots In Children

As with any form of medical treatment, adverse reactions may occur with allergy shots. In fact, it’s important to weigh the possible negative effects against the potential benefits with any form of treatment, whether it is a pill your child will be taking, shots as noted here, or any form of treatment.

Allergy shots are considered safe, even for children. However, allergy shots do carry a risk of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Serious reactions, however, are quite rare, as long as you are working with a qualified allergist who is accustomed to treating children with allergies.

How Can Immunotherapy Help Allergic Asthma

With allergy shots, each shot has very small amounts of the allergen that are injected each office visit until you react less to it. The dose of the allergen increases over time. Some people notice rapid improvement of asthma symptoms, but it may take up to one year. The treatment may continue for three to five years.

Allergy shots can work well for some people with allergies to pollen, pets, dust, bees or other stinging insects.

SLIT is immunotherapy the goes under the tongue. It is not used for people with severe persistent asthma or uncontrolled asthma. There is a higher risk of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction. SLIT tablets are currently available for dust mites, grass and ragweed.

Treating your allergies may help you reduce asthma symptoms and keep your asthma under control. If you think you may have allergic asthma, see a board-certified allergist for testing and treatment options.

ASTHMA Care for Adults

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Why Should You Get Allergy Shots At An Allergy Clinic

Our board-certified allergist received years of extensive training in formulating allergen immunotherapy shots, which is necessary to provide safe, but effective treatment of allergies. Knowledge of which allergens can be safely mixed together, which allergens cross react, and the appropriate doses of each allergen extracts to meet efficacy guidelines is paramount in ensuring that the 4-5 years you spend completing a course of allergen immunotherapy is worthwhile. Many different types of providers are now offering allergy shots and it is important to make sure that the provider you trust with this process has the knowledge and training necessary to allow you to get the maximum benefit from your allergy shots, while doing so in the safest manner possible.

My Allergy Shots Arent Working Why Could That Be

Allergy Shot Patient

There are a few different reasons why you may not be finding relief from immunotherapy.

The first is time. As stated previously, immunotherapy is a slow process. It can take several months for your symptoms to start disappearing. If youve been receiving consistent shots for a year and havent noticed any changes, talk to your immunologist about next steps.

Alternatively, you may be allergic to something that wasnt identified in your allergy test and isnt included in your treatment formula. Your immunologist may have you retested or administer a different kind of test.

Lastly, you might not be receiving a high enough dose. Shot schedules start with very small amounts which are slowly increased over time. Its possible you may need a higher dose or need to receive injections more often. Your doctor can advise you on your options.

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What Is Rush Immunotherapy

Itâs a faster way to get to a maintenance dose, but itâs also riskier.

During the first part of the treatment, you get doses of the allergen every day instead of every few days. Your doctor will check on you closely, in case you have a bad reaction. In some cases, you may get medicine before you get the dose of the allergen, to help prevent a reaction.

Who Needs Allergy Shots For Asthma

Allergy shots are not right for everyone. It may not be safe for people who have uncontrolled asthma or other health conditions, such as heart disease. It may also not be a good idea for people taking certain medications, such as beta-blockers. Allergy shots for asthma are not used in children who are under age 5.

Allergy shots for asthma might be considered for people who:

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They’re Not Just For Seasonal Allergies

Allergy shots can be effective for people with hay fever and other seasonal allergies, but they can also work for year-round indoor allergieslike mold, dust mites, and animal danderand allergies to insect bites or stings.

“In the case of stinging insects, the shots can be close to curative,” says Dr. Dziadzio. “That’s the one time I really push people to get the shots no matter what, because it’s such a dangerous allergy.” Allergy shots may also be a good choice for people who don’t like taking medications or can’t avoid the thing they’re allergic tolike a pet or the great outdoors.

How Much Do Allergy Shots Cost

allergy

Health insurance typically covers allergy shots. You may have to pay a copay for each visit. Copays are usually nominal fees.

If you dont have health insurance, have a high deductible, or if allergy shots arent covered under your plan, you may end up spending thousands of dollars a year.

One large 2019 study looked at the costs of allergy shots for people with commercial insurance or Medicare Advantage with Part D. Researchers examined data gathered between 2013 and 2015.

  • The cost of allergy shots for 131,493 people totaled $253,301,575. This averages out to around $1,926 per person.
  • People with allergies covered about 19 percent of the total costs, while insurers covered about 81 percent.
  • On average, treatment lasted 463.1 days .

Before beginning any treatment, talk with your doctor about payment options and costs.

Keep in mind that allergy shots are a long-term commitment. They require many injections, so youll want to plan accordingly if youre paying out of pocket.

Also consider that, over time, allergy shots could save you money on sick visits and over-the-counter allergy medications.

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Can I Have A Reaction To Allergy Shots

While most patients do not normally experience reactions other than minor reactions, it is important for you to know about potential reactions. The types of reactions are outlined below.

Local reactions at the site of injection may occur in most patients receiving shots. These local reactions usually resolve within 24 hours or less. Local reactions may occur immediately or several hours after your injection.

Systemic reactions may consist of any or all of the following symptoms: itchy eyes, nose or throat runny nose nasal congestion sneezing tightness in the throat or chest coughing or wheezing swelling of tissue around eyes, tongue, throat or hives beyond injection site. Also, some may experience lightheadedness, faintness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach or uterine cramps, drop in blood pressure and in some extreme conditions, loss of consciousness reactions and/or heart rhythm problems which may be serious but rarely fatal.

Large local reactions in general and systemic reactions may occur in 1-5% of the patients and usually occur during the build-up phase although they can occur at any time during the course of treatment. These reactions necessitate a dosage adjustment. The overwhelming majority of these reactions occur within 30 minutes of the injection and should be reported immediately to the nurse or physician so that they may be reversed with medications while in the office.

Allergy Shots For Children

As early as ages 3, kids can begin to develop seasonal allergies, leaving many parentswondering what is the best treatment? We also get asked often are allergy shots safe forchildren. Yes, they are, but this is something that needs to be discussed with your allergist.Children, like adults, sometimes develop a minor reaction near the site of the injectionimmediately after the allergy shot is given. Simply applying ice to the area and administering anantihistamine can reduce the swelling.

There are rare cases where children can have a more severe reaction, including hives, itchingacross the body, or difficulty breathing. These are less common but can occur. That is why itsbest to consult with your allergy specialist to determine if an allergy shot is appropriate for yourchild.

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