What You Need to Know About Allergy Shot Reactions and Side Effects

How long do side effects of allergy shots last?

Allergy shots may cause pain, swelling, itching, and redness at the injection site. These symptoms can appear within hours of your treatment or up to three days later. Some patients also experience mild allergy symptoms. Allergy drops are an alternative that are just as effective and have fewer side effects.

What Are the Reactions?

Allergy shots are the most common long-term allergy relief prescribed in the United States. Although highly effective, allergy shots do come with a range of side effects, some of which are severe.

What Are Allergy Shots?

Allergy shots are an allergy treatment that gives you long-term relief. A form of immunotherapy, these shots expose your body to trace amounts of allergens that trigger your allergic reaction. Over time, your immune system builds a tolerance for the allergens, and its response to the substances lessens. Along with a reduced immune reaction, you experience a reduction in symptoms and get allergy relief that lasts.

What Is the Procedure?

If you think allergy shots may be the right allergy treatment for you, schedule an appointment with an allergist. The allergy specialist gives you a skin prick test on the back or, less frequently, on the forearm. This test exposes you to different allergens and determines what ones cause you to react.

Based on the results of testing, your doctor may prescribe immunotherapy through allergy shots. If you opt for allergy shots, know the treatment requires a significant time commitment, and that it’s important you don’t miss scheduled injections.

The allergy shot process has two phases:

The Buildup Phase

This phase of allergy shots builds up your immune system’s tolerance. For the first three to six months of treatment, you will get allergy shots twice a week at your doctor’s office. After each shot, you will need to remain at the office for 30 minutes to ensure you do not have any severe side effects.

The Maintenance Phase

Once you have progressed far enough into your allergy shot treatment, your doctor will determine it’s time for the maintenance phase and what that looks like for you. During this period, you might get your allergy shots twice a month and, eventually, reduce them to once a month. As with the buildup phase, you’ll need to remain at the doctor’s office for 30 minutes post-injection to monitor for reactions. For most patients, the maintenance phase lasts three to five years.

What Are the Reactions?

When you get allergy shots, there are some common side effects you may experience. Many patients develop a small hive or bump at the injection site. This bump may look like a mosquito bite or swell and become red. It can happen immediately after your allergy shot or a few hours later. It is a normal reaction and nothing to worry about.

You may also experience a slight worsening of your allergy symptoms, such as:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy skin
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Fatigue

These symptoms may last up to two days after allergy shots. Take an over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce these allergy shot side effects.

Rare Side Effects

There are rare side effects of allergy shots. These reactions include hives and swelling. In some cases, a severe allergic reaction may occur. Called anaphylaxis, this potentially life-threatening condition develops when your immune system overreacts so much that your whole body goes into an allergic reaction. Signs you may be experiencing anaphylaxis include:

  • Swelling in the face, mouth, or throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Low pulse
  • Itchy skin or rash
  • Abdominal pain or nausea
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Slurred speech

If anaphylaxis goes on for too long, the body can’t respond to the massive allergic response and goes into anaphylactic shock. Once this shock sets in, immediate emergency medical attention is necessary. Patients experiencing anaphylactic shock may struggle to breathe or feel weak. They may be dizzy, confused, or even lose consciousness. It is life-threatening.

In the rare occurrences when anaphylaxis develops, it does so within 30 minutes of receiving allergy shots, which is why you must stay for monitoring after your injections.

Find the Right Allergy Treatment for You

Although allergy shots are highly effective, they are not the right option for everyone. Luckily, there is another form of immunotherapy that doesn’t require long waits at the doctor’s office, pricks in the arm, or the risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Sublingual immunotherapy, also called allergy drops and tablets, uses the same process of exposing your immune system to allergens so that it develops a tolerance over time. Instead of injecting the allergens, they’re self-administered under the tongue through allergy drops or tablets.

What’s more, sublingual immunotherapy does not require a visit to the allergists. Because they are safer than allergy shots, allergy drops and tablets can be safely taken from the comfort of home without the risk of anaphylaxis.

Take Our Allergy Assessment

If the idea of long-term allergy relief without the hassle of allergy shots appeals to you, look no further than Wyndly. Our allergy doctors will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan for your allergies without allergy shots. From 24/7 access to doctors to personalized treatment plans delivered to your door, we’re here to make your allergy treatment hassle-free. 

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