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Are Allergy Shots Worth It

by Annabel Caldwell
Are Allergy Shots Worth It

Are Allergy Shots Worth It

Allergy shots are usually a very effective way of treating chronic allergies. It may take some time, but most people find that regular shots can help them when other common treatments haven’t worked. Studies show that 85% of people who suffer from hay fever see a reduction in their symptoms when they receive shots.

Do you have allergies? Do your allergies cause you problems like sneezing and watery eyes or do you feel like you’re constantly battling against the pollen count on the thermometer? If it’s the latter, then allergy shots could be exactly what you need to get relief (and maybe even cure) your allergies.
Allergies affect approximately one-third of Americans. The exact causes of allergic reactions aren’t known, although several types of cells called mast cells play an important role. When these cells become sensitized by allergens such as pollens, dust mites, pet dander and mold spores, they release chemicals called histamines which cause inflammation in tissue surrounding the allergen. This swelling is what makes those allergy symptoms so bothersome — things like headaches, runny nose and watery eyes. In severe cases, this reaction can lead to more serious conditions including asthma attacks, sinus infections and ear aches.
There are two types of allergy shots: immunotherapy and desensitization therapy. Immunotherapy involves injections containing small amounts of certain allergens. These proteins are broken down into smaller pieces, making the immune system less likely to recognize them as a threat. Over time, the number of times you receive an injection will gradually increase until you reach a dose where there are no side effects. Desensitization therapy involves injecting larger doses over shorter periods of time. After each treatment, you’ll probably experience a period of increased sensitivity before your body learns to cope with the new dosage.
Studies show that about 80 percent of those who suffer from allergies benefit from allergy shots. However, not everyone responds well to allergy shots. For example, if you have seasonal allergies caused by ragweed, then your doctor might recommend using pills instead of shots since ragweed grows throughout the year. Also, for more stubborn allergies, like those that occur due to food allergies, you may want to consider undergoing testing at an allergy clinic first to determine whether or not you’d benefit from allergy shots.
If you decide to go ahead with getting allergy shots, make sure to talk to your doctor beforehand about how often you should come back for a follow-up visit. He or she will also give you instructions on how many injections to expect per session. Typically, you’ll start out receiving three initial injections once every week followed by additional sessions spread out between three months and a year apart. Be aware that you won’t necessarily notice results right away; it takes time for the body to build up its tolerance levels to the protein being injected.
So now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of having allergy shots, read on to learn why allergy shots are considered one of the best ways to treat allergies.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends that people suffering from allergies undergo screening tests to determine if they would respond to immunotherapy. People with any type of autoimmune disease, cancer, heart disease or diabetes shouldn’t use immunotherapy because of possible complications. Those who’ve undergone organ transplants should avoid taking allergy shots unless specifically instructed by a physician. And anyone who has experienced a severe allergic reaction within the past 12 months should consult a medical professional before beginning allergy shots.
Benefits of Allergy Shots
For the most part, allergy shots reduce the severity of symptoms associated with allergies. They work best for patients with moderate to severe allergies. Other methods of treatment, including medication and environmental controls, have been shown to only provide temporary relief.
One study showed that 60 percent of participants had a 50 percent decrease in perennial allergies after receiving allergy shots. Another study found that 85 percent of people who took allergy shots saw significant decreases in their symptoms, while 15 percent still didn’t improve much.
Another perk of allergy shots is that they don’t just lessen symptoms, they actually prevent them altogether. This is because the shots train your body to produce antibodies that attack the offending allergens before they ever have a chance to irritate your skin tissues. Once your body builds up its immunity, your chances of experiencing full blown allergies diminish significantly.
It’s worth noting that allergy shots aren’t perfect. Although studies have shown that they do alleviate symptoms, they may not completely eradicate them. Some people still experience mild reactions to the shots, especially during the early stages. This is normal and something your doctor will monitor closely.
Keep reading to learn about alternative medicine options for allergies.
Alternative Medicine Options for Allergies
Although allergy shots are generally accepted as one of the most effective forms of treatment for allergies, not everyone agrees with them. Alternative practitioners believe that allergy sufferers’ bodies possess the ability to fight off foreign invaders naturally. Therefore, they think that allergy shots simply interfere with the process. One alternative method is acupuncture. Acupuncture works by stimulating specific areas along energy channels located near the spine. Doing so helps the body to better regulate itself and fight off allergens.
A growing trend among alternative medicine providers is homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies contain tiny amounts of substances that stimulate similar parts of the human body in order to relieve symptoms. Since most of us have heard of aspirin relieving pain, we know that aspirin can be used as a homeopathic remedy in order to combat headache pain. There are hundreds of different homeopathic medications available today and they’re becoming increasingly popular among allergy sufferers.

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