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How to Know If You Need Allergy Shots?

· Allergy

Lately you've been suffering. Your eyes are red and your nose is running, you've been sneezing non-stop and the antihistamine you are taking works only part of the time. If this sounds like you, then you are not alone. More than 55 million people in the United States have allergies to things in the air like mold, dust, pollen, and animal dander. If over the counter methods just aren't cutting it, perhaps immunotherapy or allergy shots might be the right treatment for you.

Allergy shots are often an effective way to manage:

  • Rhinitis (Swelling, itching, and mucous production)
  • Asthma
  • Insect sting reactions
  • Conjunctivitis (eye swelling)

According to Allergy Hacks, the most common reaction to allergens is allergic rhinitis and good management is important. Allergic rhinitis is the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the U.S. and adds about 16.7 million doctor's visits each year. Allergy shots are a great way of preventing asthma and other allergies from forming.

What are allergy shots exactly?

Basically, immunotherapy or allergy shots are used to help the body create its own natural defenses against exposure to specific substances. These shots help eliminate or minimize the need for medications.

Allergy shots are given in a series of injections over time in very small amounts. As the body adjusts to the exposure of the allergen, the dose is increased until the highest level needed is achieved. One shot is given for each different allergy. The shots are given about once a week or once every couple of weeks for about 30 weeks. The therapy can last from three to five years.

Important things to know

Ensure to tell your doctor if you are feeling sick before any injection as this could worsen asthma symptoms or cause breathing problems. The rate of success for this treatment is very high, approximately 80-90% of people have fewer allergy symptoms after a course of treatment. Some people experience complete resolve of all symptoms after completing the course of allergy shots.

To get started you will need to have a medical evaluation with a detailed history, blood tests, and physical exam. Some drugs, such as beta-blockers and antihistamines can interfere with the tests and you may need to change medications before starting the program. Spot testing is one of the two methods of skin tests used. The doctor pricks the skin and places a drop or spot of different allergens on the forearm of your skin. They can do many different allergens at the same time. If you are allergic, swelling and redness will show up where the spot test was placed.

The other skin test uses a syringe and needle to inject a small amount of the allergen under the skin. Then the doctor monitors the area for reactions. Most reactions will occur within 20 minutes. Itchiness, swelling, redness, and bumps may occur and will go away within a few hours. Any reaction that occurs after a few hours later should be reported to your doctor.

The body takes time to build up a tolerance to the allergens, but most people begin to feel better right away. With some time, immunotherapy or allergy shots can help you live a happier, healthier, and more productive life.

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