• Jake Eskanazy

The Ups and Downs of Allergy Shots



Allergy shots have been around for a very long time, but you may not be familiar with just how helpful they are. For as long as I can remember, the spring allergy season has not been a pleasant experience for me at all. As the pollen increases, so do my spring allergies. Large amounts of interventions such as Zyrtec, inhalers, nose sprays, eye drops, Singulair and other medications were still not enough to help with the constant sneezing, itchy eyes, rashes, and downright discomfort I had for weeks and weeks at a time.

My allergy doctor had mentioned allergy shots to me a few times, but let's face it: who wants to be shot with a needle once per week, and commit to going to the allergy doctor's office each time? But when I thought about it, dealing with uncontrolled seasonal allergies was far worse, and so, I finally decided to go for it.

Allergy shots slowly desensitize your body to your allergen(s), giving you increasing dosages each time. You start off very slowly, and with a very small dosage, and increase over time. When you first start out, you go very week for the first few months. One you get to a desired dose, you then increase to every 2 weeks, and eventually, to maintenance every month, which is where I am. That maintenance dose is different for everyone and may not be the absolute maximum dosage that there is. Once your body gets to the highest amount that it can tolerate, and can provide you comfort from your allergens, you are at the correct amount. A second benefit from allergy shots is that, if you have asthma that is triggered by seasonal allergies, shots will also be effective on that front.

However, allergy shots come with some downside and risks, as well. First, as I mentioned above, undergoing the allergy shot process is time consuming, but it does get a lot. better over time, and eventually you only have to go once per month. Second, you cannot exercise for two hours before or after your shot. This is because when you exercise, your blood circulates through your body at a faster rate, which will then make the contents of the shot move through your body at a different pace, possibly causing an allergic reaction.Third, many have fear of needles. This is something I quickly got over, and there are a few different things that help, such as numbing spray and a shot blocker, which both largely prevent you from feeling the needle. Finally, there is always a chance of having an allergic reaction, which happened to me once. Just minutes after receiving the shot, I started to cough, and felt a reaction happening. Luckily, I was in the allergy doctor's office: this is why they ask you to wait for 20 minutes after your shot before leaving. This is also why allergy shots must always be administered under the supervision of a doctor.

Despite the risks, doing these allergy shots has been one of the best decisions I have made. I no longer need any allergy medication during allergy season, which has been a tremendous help, and has made me a lot more comfortable during the spring allergy season.