Are there risks to allergy shots?
As mentioned above, allergy shots inject allergens into a patient’s system to stimulate their immune system. Although the amount of the allergen is small, reactions do occur. According to the Mayo Clinic (1), most people don't experience trouble, but three types of negative reactions are possible:
The most severe of all reactions, anaphylaxis can occur within 30 minutes of an allergy shot causing a patient to experience trouble breathing and low blood pressure. While rare, anaphylaxis is life-threatening.
If you experience a severe reaction that may be anaphylaxis from an allergy shot, including swelling or troubled breathing, you may need to administer epinephrine and call for medical assistance (911) immediately.
Local reactions appear around the area where the shot was administered within several hours. The reaction resolves quickly and usually appears as light irritation (swelling, redness).
Less likely to occur than local reactions, systemic reactions can be more serious and result in sneezing, congestion, and hives. In severe cases, systemic reactions may result in tightness in the chest, wheezing, and swelling of the throat.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a relatively new alternative to subcutaneous injection immunotherapy (allergy shots) that began in Europe. SLIT consists of allergy drops instead of shots. Unlike shots, allergy drops can be applied by the patient in their home and are painless.
Allergy drops are applied daily under the tongue. Recommended use is to apply under the tongue and hold for approximately two minutes. SLIT is a popular alternative treatment for children and those who want a painless and convenient long-term treatment option. Results may vary, but treatment is recommended to last at least a year to see permanent improvement.