Allergy shots: questions and answers

Allergy shots are one of the treatments available to address allergic reactions.. On some occasions, they relieve symptoms and, on other occasions, eliminate them completely, in a sustained way, after finishing the treatment.

Not everyone should apply allergy shots, nor are there vaccines available for all forms of allergy. Immunotherapy is a field of study that is under development. In any case, many myths currently circulate around this and other vaccines.

To avoid mistakes or mistakes, in this article we present the main questions and answers in this regard.

What are allergies?

Allergy It is an adverse reaction that occurs when ingesting or coming into contact with certain substances that do not affect most people. Such substances, called allergens, activate an excessive reaction of the immune system and this, in turn, generates different effects.

Allergies can be mild or severe. The most serious allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.. It breaks loose very quickly and its symptoms are life threatening. The number of substances that can cause allergic reactions is very wide.

What are allergy shots?

Allergy shots are a treatment modality for allergies. Its objective is to reduce or eliminate hypersensitivity from one person to those substances that produce the allergic reaction when it is not possible to stop coming into contact with them.

Allergy shots help the body develop immunity against the elements that generate the allergic reaction. Immunotherapy is used when other treatments or measures are not enough to treat the problem.

How do vaccines work?

Allergy shots contain a small amount of the allergen that causes the adverse reaction. That allergen is in purified form inside the vaccine. When injected, the body produces antibodies They avoid the allergic reaction.

Slowly, the dose is increased until, in the best case, the body becomes immune to the allergen. Normally, a period of three to five years is required for the symptoms to visibly decrease or disappear.

How are these types of vaccines given?

Usually, allergy shots are injected into the upper arm. The treatment includes two phases:

  • The first is the accumulation stage. The vaccine is given one to three times a week, for a period of three to six months.
  • The second phase is the maintenance stage, which lasts between three and five years. In this phase, the injection is done once a month or every six weeks. The doctor will evaluate the symptoms to determine when to stop treatment.

Read also: Should we vaccinate children? Myths and truths about vaccines

What types of allergy shots are there?

There are no vaccines for all types of allergens. The application of vaccines for food allergies is not recommended, for example. Vaccines have proven effective in cases of seasonal allergies, for indoor allergens (mites, mold, cockroaches or pet dander) and for those caused by insect bites.

When are allergy shots recommended?

Vaccines only apply to people who have a proven allergy through sensitization tests. They are not recommended in the following cases:

  • Children under 5 years and pregnant women.
  • Patients with severe asthma or a cardiac condition of consideration.
  • People who take certain medications, particularly beta blockers.
  • People with adverse reactions to the vaccine.

Vaccines are only recommended if the other treatments do not work.. Also in case there is allergy to insects, for example.

Do they have side effects? Are they safe?

Most people have no problem when they are given allergy shots. However, some people do have adverse reactions. Sometimes local reactions of redness, irritation or inflammation occur at the point where the vaccine was applied. They usually disappear soon after.

There are also cases in which systemic reactions occur, with nasal congestion, sneezing or hives. Sometimes the throat becomes inflamed and wheezing and chest tightness appear. In the most severe and rare cases, anaphylaxis can be caused. The vaccine should always be applied in a doctor's office.

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what results can be expected?

The most common is that there is a moderate improvement during the first year of treatment. This will become more noticeable during the second year. In most cases, there are no symptoms during the third year, even if the injections are stopped.

Some people will need more time and others will continue to have mild symptoms.. In animal dander allergies, for example, it is necessary to avoid contact anyway.

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