Allergy Shot Advice

In this NBC4 videoDr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center with offices in Gaithersburg, Olney and Frederick, MD, on taking shots for allergy relief.

Let’s face it — nobody likes needles. However, for more than a century, allergy patients have tolerated regular needle sticks to get relief from the stuff that makes them itch, sneeze and break out.

But allergy shots have come a long way in the past hundred years. Today’s vaccines are much more specific.

“In the old days, what went into them was just dust, the same stuff you wipe from your window sill,” said  Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family ENT, Allergy & Asthma Center in Gaithersburg, Md.“Now, it’s much more specific and includes the dust mites and the part of the mites that we humans develop an allergy to.”

So, theoretically, the shots should work better. In the long term, they certainly work better than allergy medications because shots treat the cause and not just the symptoms of your misery.

We asked Dr. Jackie what people really need to know about allergy shots:

  • So who really needs shots?  “Particularly children. The earlier we start them, the better. We can actually prevent asthma in kids when we start them on shots early.  And if we start them on shots for things like grass pollen, we can often stop them from developing other allergies.” 
  • What about adults?  “If you hate taking regular medication or want a more natural remedy for your allergies, shots are your best bet.” 
  • Once shots are started, how long should they continue?  “The buildup phase is usually six months, then you switch to once a month, and then you’re done, generally for many years.”  
  • What if a person only has seasonal allergies?  “It depends on when’s the season and what the pollen is. If the season is just about eight weeks of the year, no, it’s not worth it.  You’re better off taking daily meds. But if you’re allergic to more than one season, I’d suggest shots.  The difference is the choice to take daily medication versus taking shots that you actually finish.”
  • Do shots work for food allergies?  “Not at all and anybody who tells you they do is wrong.”
  • Does it matter whether you get shots at an allergist’s office or an allergy clinic? “What really matters is who makes up your vaccine. Think of your board certified allergist as the chef. Someone else can be the waiter.  Your allergist should make up your vaccine. Then you can take the vial to your clinic or even primary care doctor to give you the injections.”
  • What’s the deal with allergy drops?  “If you’re in Europe they work well.  In the U.S. they’re not FDA approved and studies here haven’t really proven that they work.”

Article by Pat Lawson Muse.

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