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Allergy Shots: Underused Treatment?

Many scowl at the mention of allergy shots. But experts say they can offer lasting relief -- freeing people from daily allergy medications.

Danger, Danger

Although there is a minimal risk of severe allergic reaction from allergy shots, the injections pose little risk as long as they are administered with slowly increasing doses. The reason why allergy shots typically take three to five years is because giving more "hefty" doses in a shorter time frame could trigger potentially life-threatening anaphylactic shock -- an intense reaction to an allergy trigger in which the airway can close.

Who Should Avoid Allergy Shots

Allergy shots are not recommended for those with heart disease or severe asthma. In addition, allergy shots should not be started during pregnancy but can be continued during pregnancy if they started before conception.

"If there's an adverse reaction during immunotherapy, you have to give adrenaline," says Zitt. "And you don't want to do that during pregnancy, to heart patients, or those with severe asthma. But if you're not building up resistance, there's not that concern and allergy shots are extremely safe, well-tolerated, and highly effective for most people with allergies."

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Reviewed on March 02, 2007

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