What To Think About
Although expensive, allergy shots may cost no more than the combined cost of medicine, doctor and emergency room visits, and missed days of school or work over several years. And it may take a year or more for symptoms to improve. If the treatment schedule would be hard for you to follow, you may want to think about other options.
Allergy shots treat an allergy to just one allergen or a very closely related group of them, such as grass pollens. If you are allergic to more than one type of allergen, you may need to receive shots for each type of allergen to relieve all of your symptoms. The allergens can usually be combined into one or two shots.
Children younger than 2 should not have allergy shots. Children ages 3 to 4 may find it hard to get many shots over a long period of time. Talk with your doctor about whether allergy shots are right for your child.
Older adults may be taking medicines or have other medical conditions that may increase the risk of a severe reaction to allergy shots.
You must report any delayed reaction to an allergy shot. Late reactions can happen any time within 24 hours after a shot. Reactions may just affect the injection site (such as a large, red or raised area around the site) or they may affect your overall body (such as trouble breathing).
Pregnant women who are already taking allergy shots may continue them. But do not start taking them during pregnancy.
Allergy shots should not be used when you:
- Have had a recent heart attack, unstable angina, or other heart problems or are taking beta-blockers.
- Are unable to communicate (can't tell your doctor about reactions to shots). Most doctors do not give allergy shots to children younger than 5.
- Have an immune system disease (such as AIDS).
Researchers are looking at putting the allergen under the person's tongue, rather than giving a shot. This is used more in Europe than the United States.
For information on making the decision about allergy shots, see:
- Allergies: Should I Take Allergy Shots?