Allergy Shots

Nurses General Nursing


This is a question more from a mother's standpoint than a nurse's (which I am not YET). My son has asthma and allergies, just mild, but enough to have him miss a lot of school, in part because at this time I have no insurance and can only treat his symptoms. I would like to get him started on allergy shots when my insurance kicks in, in the middle of the summer. I would like to hear from anyone who has had any experience with allergy shots, good and bad, either as a parent or a nurse.




Guest LauraRN0501

0 Posts

I have read somewhere that sometimes allergy shots can cause a severe allergic reaction, but I couldn't find what the actual chances of this happening are. Does anyone know?


Jay-Jay, RN

633 Posts

I was on allergy shots for more than 15 yrs. so, of course, was curious to find out how they worked. As it was explained to me, there are basically 2 types of antigens which trigger an allergic response. One triggers a full-scale allergic attack, the other triggers a milder, local reaction.

Allergy shots are injections of a weakened extract of the second type of antigen. When the body's cells are hooked up to the second type of antigen, the first antigen cannot occupy that site, therefore it cannot trigger the severe type of allergic reaction. So, basically the shots work something like a vaccination. If you are allergic to more than one thing, the serums may be separated into two bottles, and require two separate injections. The shots usually produce a large bump at the site of the injection.

If someone is very, very sensitive to a particular allergen, even the shots can trigger a life-threatening allergic response, and this is why the doctor asks the patient to remain in the office for 20 min. post-injection, particularily if they are getting the first dose of a new batch of serum.

I'm not sure that the allergy shots really helped me that much. I STILL got a lot of colds while I was on them. What has helped is making exercise (esp. outdoor exercise) a regular part of my life. While in my 20's I worked in a riding stable, mucking out stalls, feeding, grooming, etc. Hay is my worst allergy. I would feed it to the horses, then sweep the floor afterwards, with no ill effects. I was so fit physically that I had one cold the whole time I worked there, and that was because someone persuaded me to sweep out the barn loft. All that old, mouldy hay and heavy-duty dust was just too much for my system.

Anyway, no two people are alike. That's just my personal experience, for what it's worth. Exercise certainly can help, as it also reduces stress, which is a big factor in triggering asthma attacks.


859 Posts

Laura, when my older brother was a child, he had asthma, frequent colds, pneumonia, etc. He was allergic to everything--grass, pollen, dust, molds, animal dander, you name it. He went through desensitization for perhaps a year. After that, all his respiratory problems cleared up--we were able to get a family dog--and he never really had a problem with asthma ever again. I'm sure that Jay-Jay's right that it is an individual thing, but it really worked amazingly well for my brother.

Home Health Columnist / Guide


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Laura: This web site has more info re allergy immunization.

Having severe allergies upon entereing my teens : dust grass molds, animal dander,I was on allergy shots till age 20 then only needed periodic antihistamines. In my late 30's, developed multiple episodes of asthmatic bronchitis + excessive mucous; 2 1/2 more years allergy TX, now take antihistamines and no longer drown with mucuous.

My child has frequent sinus infections as children, outgrew by age 7;best friend got a dog 1 1/2 years ago. Within 2 months they would come home after only 1-2 hrs, run for showe and neede inhalers. Younger child had several asthma attacks, refused needles till one day had prolonged attack after being at friends for six hours, 4 months later had anaphylatic reaction to 1 cashew. Since starting treatment both can be around dog without problems for 8-12hrs and no asthma attacks this winter.

Each persons needs are different, that's why allergy panel testing so important. Delayed reactions can occur. Had a child at summer camp get beesting at 9 AM; by 6:30 PM had delayed angioedema reaction which need epinephrine,steroids mini nebs;so this is why one waits for 20 min after treatment.

Only you can decide what is best for your child.


Guest LauraRN0501

0 Posts

Thanks so much for all the input. After reading your responses, I am definitely going to be looking into allergy shots for my son. While his asthma is not severe, or even moderate, he frequently fills up with mucous and coughs and coughs and coughs until he starts vomiting mucous. Then he is so short of breath and tired. This usually happens in the morning and the only thing that helps is a nebulizer treatment. So I think that allergy shots are indicated. We had to get rid of our two cats because they were causing such problems. I can't wait to get insurance so I can get him healthy!

Thanks again, everyone's advice and opinion is appreciated.



1,091 Posts

Specializes in ER, PACU, OR.


It sounds like you are talking about me during my childhood!

When I grew up, albuterol and all the great stuff they have out there now, were non existant. I was on some crap called broncholixor, that worked fairly well, as long as you were immobile. I also had severe allergies........and to this day, more than an hour and a half in a house with a cat and it could kill me. Unfortunately, what happens in that hour and a half, takes 3 -7 days to undo. Needless to say, cat peoples houses are out for me.

As far as allergiy shots.......I got them since I was about 18 yrs od, because I couldnt take the allergy season anymore. I kept going to one doctor for a long time until he retired. I did feeel improvement over this time, and he even let me do my own injections at home (huge mistake).

When he retired, I went to another guy, who was a "Immunologist" which is what you should see.........not an "allergist". I saw this guy for about 18 months. I went in, got my injection and waited in the office 20 miutes afterwards (like your supposed to in case of a reaction) and left. Things went well for a while I thought? One thing is he did retest me...... and the average reaction from testing considered high, was about 11-15mm for the wheal. My grass was 35mm, and tree was 25 mm......which is huge!

Anyways, my arm would get swollen, warm and red. I would tell him the next week and he would back off on the doasge. Up it the next time, then he would back down again when it became red and swollen again.

One day I'm sitting there afterwards, and waiting my 20 minutes out. This guy kept staring at me. All I could think, was maybe to ask him if he had somse type of problem? I ignored, him and he kept staring at me like I was some sort of freak. Well, I started to feel a little weird, and checked my was 135 sitting! I stood up to walk over and tell the secretary how I felt, and as I stood I lost all my peripheral vision....and stumbled over to the window. I asked to get the doctor........and she said he's very busy right now, what can I do for you? I said and I quote, "Get the F$%^&*( doctor now!!!!" Well she did, and as he rolled around the corner, I rolled onto the floor. they took me in the office, gave me my three rounds of 0.3 1:1000 epi, put me on 100% O2 because I couldn't breath, started an IV, gave me steroids, and 3 liters of fluid. I got to the pint where I couldn't move, talk or respond.........just hear. The last thing I heard was, "his B/P is 72/39" and lights out. I woke up (at least its what I felt like) 1 1/2 hours later (with a surgeon and a trach tray set-up). His office was in an out patient surgery center coincidentally. I was drenched, he wanted to admit me, but I had other obligations the next day. I told him no, and he said if I hung out at tyhe office for the day, that would be the compramise. So yes an aniphylactic reaction is possible.

The odddssss?? In 2o yrs, he only had it happens twice.....does that help?


P.S.- needless to say no more shots for me.

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