Tuesdays are Your Turn – Allergy Shots for Kids

Today’s question comes from Kelley, whose daughter is highly allergic to cats. And by “highly,” I mean she experiences major symptoms even on a full regimen of allergy meds. The doctor suggested immunotherapy, and since taking a kid for weekly or biweekly jabs is no joke, Kelley’s looking for some good information.

In particular:

What’s your experience with allergy shots? Do they help enough to make the pain and inconvenience worth it? Any side effects? If so, how bad are they?

Any little bit of advice you have might prove useful, so help another Asthma Mom out and leave your two cents in the comments.

(Photo: 1940′s typhoid vaccination from the Library of Congress’s Flickr.)

70 responses to “Tuesdays are Your Turn – Allergy Shots for Kids”

  1. Sarah says:

    I wasn’t aware that allergy shots were even available for cat allergy. I’ll have to check and see if they’re available in Canada!

    As for allergy shots, I don’t get mine for another two weeks, but once I start, I’ll let you all know how it goes.

  2. lpnmon says:

    We have started allergy shots with DS recently (within the last 2 months). So far, we haven’t seen any improvement, but I didn’t expect to see any yet. They warned me that it could be upwards of a year before he could start weaning off of meds. I am encouraged by a neighbor, whose son, after 3 years of shots, is now down to just flonase after years of inhalers and prednisone.

    Haven’t seen much in the way of side effects. His peak flows seem to take a bit of a dip in the couple of days after an allergy shot, but we have also been passing spring colds around the house, so the dips could be from that too.

    As a 6 year old kid, he was predictably worried about a shot every week until forever, but after he had the first one and saw how little it hurt, he was ok with it. (our asthma doc also lets the kids pick a little toy and/or sticker each time, so that helps too)

    The inconvenience is big for me. We drive 20+ minutes each way to see this doc, which is no big deal when you’re only going a couple (ok, few) times a year, but gets old when you’re going once or twice a week. I’m playing with the idea of switching to someone closer, but have been happy with the doc and the office otherwise, and I’m not sure “breaking in” another one would be worth it.

    Whew. That got long. Hope it helps someone!

    -lpnmon

  3. Samantha says:

    My little one hasnt tried shots, they dont seem to be worth it for just the one known allergen. Me on the other hand with my laundry list (dust, mold, mildew, cut grass, “multilple regional pollens”, dander (supposedly cats and dogs but i usually “acclimate” to them and dont react once im used to them, rabbits i always react to no matter how many times im exposed), strawberries and milk) i tried them as a kid. I didnt have any real side effects that I can recall (it was many yrs ago now lol) and my parents dont remember any either really, but we eventually stopped them because while they didnt make me worse, after better than a yr on them, we had yet to see any actual improvement in my symptoms….

  4. Amy says:

    Sarah–I was hoping you’d say that. Not only do I want them to help ease some of your asthma symptoms, but I bet you’ll have some useful input for Kelley.

    Lpnmom–Thank you! There’s a lot of good information in that comment.

    Samantha–Thanks for this, too. It’s just too bad you had to go through a year of shots without any improvement!

  5. Kelley says:

    Thanks everyone for the info. Since she’s already on allergy meds & still has problems (with other people’s cats, since we don’t have one), I don’t see a better solution. I am hesitant to change her allergy med or add more, and literally every one in our family has a cat except for us and my mom. Her asthma/allergy doc said due to how bad her eyes get around them, we should avoid places where they’re at and/or limit time to no more than a couple of hours. I just can’t continue to keep her away from so much of our family much longer. Thanks again, and I’ll wait and see how things go for you!

  6. Andrea says:

    All 3 of my kids are asthmatic, 1 son has completed 5 years of allergy shots, 1 son is almost done (as soon as the bottle is empty), my daughter started 6 months ago. Yes, it is hard to plan my life around the doctor’s office twice a week for years (each kid has started/stopped at a different time-so basically we’ve been going for about 8 years total.) My kids are allergic to everything-dust, mold, trees, bushes, flowers, grass, cats, dogs, horses, etc, etc. The allergy shots have helped! The son that has completed shots would have problems in school due to other kids with pets that would come to school with the dander on their clothes. It has helped dramatically-he can go to a friend’s house that has pets and be okay. WARNING: stay the 20 minutes the doctor recommends! The one time we left early with one son (the other son was in the hospital due to asthma), my son had anaphylactic shock. Luckily, we were only one block away and had to speed back to the office. It can and does happen. Be careful and follow the doctor’s recommendations.

  7. Amy says:

    Andrea–Those are some valuable tips – thanks for leaving them! (And I’m so happy the shots are working for your family.)

  8. Linda F says:

    I did allergy shots as a kid, I think I was around 9 or so for a little while. I finally stopped them after begging my Mom to stop them. I would end up in a full blown asthma attack about 20 to 30 minutes after the injection. We would even wait the required 15 min there and have to turn back around on the drive home so I could get treatment. The one I vividly remember most was we were driving home, stuck in traffic and I wasn’t able to breath…even after taking several hits of the inhaler…I was actually scared and I know my Mom must have been freaking out, although she never let it show…cool as a cucumber and kept telling me it would be ok…we were going to the hospital. So, nevertheless, never took those again…and still haven’t and I’m in my early 30′s. I’d rather deal with the bad allergies.

  9. MC says:

    I’ve never had allergy shots, pretty much because of 2 things: 1. I don’t have any really bad reactions with the allergy tests… and I don’t have more than 2-3 reacted spots with the allergy tests. But we do know for sure that I’m allergic to stuff… dust mites, nuts, milk is really sensitive and I’ve nearly ended up in the ER for it, and rabbits trigger my asthma and allergies really badly. I react to some others, but not as bad, and we haven’t yet figured out exactly which ones. And not all of the above showed up on tests…. but we learned through trial and error.
    The other reason why I’ve never had allergy shots is because my mom had them for several years, and it really didn’t help her any. She wasn’t about to go with me 2x a week to the doctor 45 minutes away for something that might not work. I’ve just learned to deal with the symptoms by avoidance.

    However, I’ve heard of them working at least to some extent, and one case I can think of off the top of my head, is a boy in CO who’s family does a lot of food allergy awareness and advocacy (allergicchild.com). I don’t know if allergy shots would ever be an option for me, and if they were, if they’d work… or if I’d have the time and ability to go through them.

  10. Elisheva says:

    I’ve never had allergy shots since the only allergies I do have are extremely mild (except for penecillin which is easy to avoid) and my primary triggers for asthma are not allergies. Allergy shots seem like such a hassle tho. But hey, if they work, they work.

    I actually am commenting just to point out that due to the difference in time zones (what are you? 9 hours behind me? 10?), I only get to see your Tuesday posts on Wednesday mornings. I like the “Tuesdays are Your Turn” stuff, so I’m always checking your site on Tuesdays only to not have the post be up yet. I’m amused :P Tho that generally happens for a lot of American sites I check. Keep up the good work!

  11. Sarah says:

    There are three main reasons I’m getting allergy shots: 1) even if my allergies are not the main factor driving my asthma – like we think they are – they still affect me on a daily basis… I’m talking, antihistamine only gets me to the point that I can breathe through one nostril at a time and my eyes are always swollen at least a little bit. 2) IF my allergies are what’s driving my asthma, then I can hopefully stop yellow/red zoning all summer starting next summer. 3) If I get no other benefit, I’ll be able to overcome my needle fear, which on its own is worth it to me.

  12. Linda says:

    I currently get allergy shots for cat dander and pollens. I have asthma and allergies, for which I take antihistamines, a steroid nasal spray and asthma controller meds. I don’t get much pain or discomfort from the shot itself. Sometimes I get a mild systemic reaction, like itching. Once, I had an anaphylactic reaction and had to use my Epi-Pen and go to the ER. That sucked. If your daughter has a history of anaphylaxis your doctor will discuss it with you. I carry an Epi-Pen with me and my doctor and I discussed it before I started my allergy shots.

    Allergies trigger my asthma, but other things do, too. I’m hoping that once the allergy shots really start kicking in, that maybe I can decrease some of my asthma controller meds.

  13. Tina McBride says:

    Has anyone ever heard of a case where allergy shots arrested development? A friend tells me that her older sister started shots when she was young and had the body of a boy until she finished college and stopped taking shots and then developed whereas my friend started menstruating in the 7th grade. She said she always felt it was due to the shots. My son is 13 and is due to start shots and I just don’t want to thwart his growth.

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