March 21, 2011,
J.J. asks from Milwaukee, WI on March 18, 2011
Allergy Shots - Milwaukee,WI
So I've waited the 6 weeks for my allergy shots to arrive. I received a letter from the doctors office telling me to take Zyrtec within 12 hrs before I go in. Does that mean if I take it an hour before, I am good? Also I am on Singulair. Should I call and ask if it is ok to take the Zyrtec too? I think so but I always double check because sometimes the nurse has to ask those questions too and maybe didn't look to see that. I told the nurse that I was told that a kid from school died from an allergy shot and she said there was probably more to it and don't listen to what someone told me. Now in the letter I just received it is highlighted that there could be a life threatening reaction. Rarely but it had to have happened to someone in order to get a "rarely" review. I'm sort of afraid to go now. Should I take someone with me in case or what? It doesn't say what they will do if something happens either. I'm afraid of getting that stuff injected into my body. Help me feel better about this please. I have really bad allergies/asthma and I want to go get these shots. Also what happens if you miss a week if you are on vacation or something? Does it mess up your treatments? And one thing I didn't ask is it ok to get pregnant while taking these shots? I will ask the nurse more questions when I actually go to get the first shot. I was so upset after she jabbed all those 48 things in my back last time I just wanted to get out of there. It was very painful.
M.C. answers from Washington DC on March 18, 2011
Yes if you take the Zyrtec about an hour before you'll be okay. It just needs to be in your system long enough to start working.
The warning is there for the doctor's protection. Always wait the 20m waiting period!! This is when most reactions occur. My BIL didn't wait once and had a bad reaction after 10m. He had to be taken back to the dr.
My son is on maintenance shots and always wants me to leave as soon as he gets his shot. He is allowed to go every 2-4 weeks for shots and is allowed to leave right after if I sign him out. I say no and we wait. He had an elevated reaction last week. We usually go every 2 weeks, but had to wait 3+ for this round due to illness. His shot location hived right up. I just gave him 'the look' and he said he was glad we'd stuck around. They have calming benedryl cream that they usually apply for reactions, and had me give him more benedryl when we got home.
If you are nervous about it, then yes take someone with you the first time. This is also why my dr. requires that a dr. be in the office for the first set of shots. If you have a local (hives/itching) reaction they will give you some lotion. If you have a problem with your breathing or passing out, they have other medicines that they can use asap.
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A.F. answers from Chicago on March 18, 2011
I got shots once a week for 5 years back when I was 7 (I am 33 now) and then maintenance shots for another 2 years where I was weaned off them slowly. MY allergies are MUCH improved. I only had 1 reaction in all that time to the shot -- 1. My reaction wasn't as much as to the shot as how it was given (backhand and hit a nerve). Wait the reaction time period, continue your meds and relax. Talk to your doc about the pregnancy thing as I was so young, it wasn't applicable. I used to take allergy meds still in my 20s when I lived in PA (bad area for allergies) but I quit when I moved to the Chicago, IL area back in 2002... and haven;t really needed them since. Good luck with the shots!
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A.L. answers from Minneapolis on March 19, 2011
I've been on allergy shots for 13 years. It has been life changing. I had had a stuffy nose every day of my life for 30 years-no exaggeration. I suffered horribly every spring until the first freeze the next fall. I get two shots each time for grasses, weeds, pollen and mold. It was such a weird experience to feel good for the first time in my life! after the shots you wait there for 30 minutes to be sure there will be no reaction. I have never had a reaction. If someone does they can give you medicine to stop it. They are very safe and effective. It's a pain when you start because you have to build up gradually to your top dose. Once you are at your top dose you only have to come in once a month so just get your shots a few days before you go on vacation and you'll be good for 30 days. I was scared at first too but once you are used to it and see the amazing difference in how you feel it will be no big deal.
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V.W. answers from Jacksonville on March 18, 2011
My son's doctor must be present in the office for anyone to receive their injections. They are not painful. My son is 12 and gets two, one in each arm. He doesn't mind them. The doctor requires that we wait 20 minutes after injections (they use a timer) for them to check his reaction, and also in the event he has a BAD reaction.
My son goes once per week right now on maintenance. If he has to move his appt to a different day of the week, it usually doesn't create any problems if it extends the time between appts up to 8 or 9 days instead of 7.
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B.D. answers from Pittsburgh on March 18, 2011
I've been getting allergy shots for...oh about 15 years now. I was never a fan of needles but have come to realize that allergy shots really aren't a big deal.
In the beginning you definitely need to sit in their office/waiting room for 15 minutes to make sure you don't have a reaction. If you do it is typically a little swelling or redness at the injection site. I have personally never heard of anyone having a life threatening reaction to an allergy shot, but I am not a doctor. I know they start your doses low and ramp them up so that is unlikely.
As you can tell allergy shots are a long term committment. They will not help you today or tomorrow but they will slowly build up your immune system. Every year they reevaluate you to see where your body stands with each allergen. They will then adjust accordingly. Depending on how your body reacts determines the frequency of getting the shots.
Pregnancy and hormones can change your immune system. After my 2nd my allergy levels were very low and then a few years later they started to rebound. Yes you can get the shots throughout pregnancy as it does nto cross the placenta.
You can definitely miss a week.
I was never told I needed to take any antihistamine before the shots. I do take Claritin on a regular basis though (and it is safe while pregnant as well as Rhinocort). Now my husband also gets shots but does not need Claritin because his body does not produce as many histamines as mine.
I hope I answered all of your questions. Relax it really is not a big deal although I felt the same way all those years ago.
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S.E. answers from Minneapolis on March 21, 2011
I went through 6 years of allergy shots. I was pregnant during both of them. It doesn't hurt the baby. I am exteremly allergic to trees, grasses & pollens. You take the medication before the injection to minimize the effects. You are still going to be allergic to what they are injecting, it just helps reduce the symptoms. My clinic also made you wait there for 1/2 hour after your shots in case you had a severe reaction. The worst thing I ever got was a huge lump on the back of my arm. It lasted like 2 days & then was gone. If you go on vacation it's no big deal. You would just repeat your last dose. the shots themselves are not that bad. I was getting double ear & sinus infections every 2-3 months for almost 3 years. I started on the shots & meds & have maybe had 2 sonce them & it's now been over 10 years since I started.
D.S. answers from Houston on March 18, 2011
relax they will give you an epiniphrine sp? shot to take in case you need it. singulair and zyrtec is what i took together when i was on perscriptions and then i got put on allegra and singulair along with nasal sprays and such. yes you can die from them but the odds are slim to none. that is what the epinephrine shot is for. the life threating reaction was more during the test than the shots. if you have a reaction to it he is a doc and knows how to handle it. i know this doesnt settle your mind but i will tell you from experience that the shots made me take less meds later they do work. I went from 5 meds a day 3 inhalers singulair and allegra down to i can survive on just benedryl. but now that allegra is on the market i am a die hard i dont have to have a perscription i am getting it. you can give yourself a shot if you go on vacation. do it in the fatest part of your body i did my thigh. as far as i know it is ok to get pregnant with them but i wasnt pregnant and my kid was older 7 when i did them. i did them for about 2 yrs and my god the diffrence it made was amazing. its scary but worht every bit of it