Months ago I started Allergy Shot Therapy at my ENT for my year round seasonal allergies. It was three shots weekly, given at the same time, two in one arm, one in the other. At my ENT I was unable to make a weekly appointment but rather had to call on certain days and make sure it was okay for me to come in during the allotted shot times. After the shots were given I had to remain at the office for 30 minutes in order for them to make sure there was not a bad reaction. It was plainly put, a pain. The times lined up with when my husband was typically at work so it typically meant taking all three kids with me. To say that they disliked it, was an understatement, it was a pain in their eyes. and every week they let me know how much they hated going. Ultimately, though a pain in my eyes too, I really felt getting some relief was worth it.

As the months went on and the allergens concentration slowly got higher my reactions to the shots got worse. I felt tired and run down after getting the shots, and felt worthless the next day. Where the shots were given felt hard and hot almost immediately. I always felt a dull pain in my arms the next day and I often found myself skipping my runs on those days because my arms hurt when I ran.

The week before I found out about many of my food allergies I had a bad reaction to my shots. It happened to be that on that day instead of the nurse giving me my shots, my ENT doctor did – so he was able to take a look at the reaction. He felt that it was not normal and I needed to be bumped back down to the level I was at previously with my old vials. This would set me back more than 4 weeks of shots. There is a build up stage in these shots, ultimately they are building up the allergen concentration to get you to a level where you are just in the maintenance phase. For some this means that you get your shots every other week or even just once a month. The maintenance phase varies person to person – I was told that the entire process would last for years.

When I returned the following week the nurse noted that I had to be bumped back in my shots and asked me what I felt about my reaction. She said she would double check with the doctor to make sure that he really felt the reaction was severe enough that I really had to go back to the lower level vial. I told her that I was willing to tough it out. I didn’t want to go backwards – I really wanted to get to that maintenance phase as quickly as possible so I didn’t have to go in weekly. She talked to him – he flat out said no – I had to be bumped back.

When they gave me my shots, he showed me my charts and where I was going back to. He said that he was taking me back farther than he had said he would the week before because he really did not like my reaction. I was going back over two months of shots, which felt beyond frustrating. He stated that I probably wouldn’t have any reaction at all that day because he was taking me back to a level where the allergens were so minimal I wouldn’t feel it.

Within minutes of the shots, I could already feel how itchy and hot my arms were. Honestly I was really surprised and felt pissed off at my body, while sitting in the office waiting room. After 10 minutes I went and talked to the receptionist and asked if the doctor could look at my arms now even though it hadn’t been 30 minute yet – I didn’t feel “right” for lack of a better word.

He looked at my arms and immediately told me that he didn’t understand why my body was in his words – freaking out – this was not a normal reaction and in his words – he said this shouldn’t have happened today. He gave me allergy meds, and put hydrocortisone cream to help with the itching and had a “come to Jesus” talk with me.

He told me that he didn’t think there was any way he was ever going to be able to get me to the maintenance phase. My immune system is in overdrive and he said that all he is doing each week is making my body freak out. The purpose is to build up a tolerance to the allergens and that it wasn’t working if every week my body was going crazy over what he considered next nothing when it came to the concentration of the allergens in the shots.

I said I was willing to tough it out but that I was really tired of feeling at war with my body over food and allergens. {I just want to feel normal – whatever that may be for me} We chatted for awhile, I really appreciated that he wasn’t rushing me out. He said that if it was him making the decision he would stop the shots all together because clearly though they work for most people, they aren’t working for me. He suggested maybe in a couple of years that I revisit the idea of the shots, but for now my immune system freaks out and he thinks that shots are doing more harm to me than they are helping me. So that was that. He also said that he didn’t think I should move forward with the surgery either, even though that was one of the options we had been exploring lately. It would fix my deviated septum and hopefully give me more room so that when my nose, etc. is swollen I still feel like I can breathe. He said that he would hate for me to go through the whole process and not see a significant difference. He flat out said there is no way around this – you have allergies year round and there isn’t much at this point we can do to change how you are feeling other than just trying to manage the symptoms. He suggested I take allergy meds daily and gave me a perscripiton for a nasal spray that has steroids in it to help.

I’ve been doing both and I think on some level they are helping, but I still often feel congested and get the feeling that I am not getting enough air even when not running. It’s a bizarre feeling.

To be honest I’m not one bit surprised that he said my immune system is freaking out and I’m glad those were his words because it’s actually how I feel. I do believe that maybe some of this is stress related and that right now there are just so many different things I am managing with my body,  maybe that is why this is too much. In a couple of years I will revisit the idea of allergy shots, until then I’m going to do my best to work on my food allergies and hopefully this will manage some of the cross reaction allergies that seem to be coming from the oral allergy syndrome. I’m learning a lot about all of this and feel really lucky to a. have health insurance that covers this and to b. have found an ENT and an allergist who are really patient and willing to work with me on this.

For now I’m done with the shots and am not upset about the time it has now given me back in my week. Onward and upward…..

Happy March 1st - I love the beginning of new months – another opportunity to start fresh!

 

Have you had success with allergy shot therapy?

Valentine 1

 

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Comments

  1. This was a great post! I remember when I had to get surgery done for my deviated septum because the nasal sprays and meds never helped in opening up my airways. Looking back, the recovery sucked, I felt so miserable, but afterwards and now, I find it so much easier to breathe, especially on my runs. Best of luck to you, I hope your allergies get better!

  2. My sympathies….hope you find things that work for you. Glad you had an ENT who was candid with you.

    I was always afraid to get the allergy shots – I already had autoimmune issues, and messing further with a system out of whack (plus weekly shots for years?!) seemed unwise. I have a strongly deviated septum so that my right sinus is almost always fairly congested, plus allergies to dust (!) and dust mites, cat dander, some pollens and who knows what else by now. My ENT told me no point in trying the surgery for the septum as the deviation was in a spot where they were more likely to wind up puncturing the septum, which would be worse. I also have oral allergy syndrome reactions to foods (mostly fruits) during some seasons.

    I sleep w/ my head elevated on 2 pillows to help w/ overnight congestion. If you’re allergic to dust and pollen, I suggest getting the pricey IQAir and/or BlueAir air purifiers – I have 1 IQ and 2 BlueAir, and they make a huge difference with dust, pollen and things you may not think about like road/house construction stuff in the air. Also, I find I am incredibly sensitive to fragrances now – whether in cleaning supplies, flowers, whatever. Avoid them as much as I can. Some of those might be causing irritation as well. (also my sinuses are sensitive to barometric pressure changes from weather, always fun)

    I’m on allergy pills (OTC) all the time. Had been on rx of Allegra-D, Zyrtec, others, but eventually they all stopped working or the side effects became intolerable. I was on Nasonex/Flonase for 10+ years, decided to stop them and had bad steroid withdrawal symptoms for several months (they are corticosteroids.) Now take Allegra children’s in the AM 1/2 a Benadryl toward bedtime. I use homeopathic allergy remedies and nasal sprays as needed along w/ stinging nettles when the seasons hit.

  3. Obviously what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another but the surgery was a lifesaver for me, I couldn’t breathe out of one side at all and when I got stuffed up at all, the other side would close considerably as well. The first time they undid my packing, I got this rush of air and it freaked me out and I felt like I was breathing in deep cold mountain air and my doctor said “congrats, that’s what it was supposed to feel like your whole life.” I hope you find some kind of solution!
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  4. Ugh, I hate allergies! It’s not that bad for me, I just get very sneezy and have to cope with a running nose every spring, which can sometimes be really annoying, but it’s nothing serious.
    Good for you for starting shot therapy. I have no close friends or acquaintances that have had any experience with it, but I have heard or read somewhere that it’s the best possible thing you can do for persistent allergies, especially reactions to food.
    Great post, good luck and keep them coming!

  5. Last summer I finally went to the allergist to find out exactly was I was allergic to, and while I was there for one of the tests there was a man in the test/waiting area who had been getting allergy shots for two years. He was right in the middle of telling me how much the shots were helping him when he stopped talking and WENT INTO ANAPHYLAXIS RIGHT THERE. He’s fine now, and I wonder if he got stepped back or even stopped the shots after that experience! So seeing that happen makes me glad that you decided to stop with the shots for now.

    Turns out I am severely allergic to dust mites and ragweed, and I have oral allergy syndrome for peanuts (which I have suspected my entire life). The allergist suggested shots for the seasonal allergies, but scary reactions aside, I just don’t have the time. I have mild asthma that can be triggered by the allergies, so it’s not out of the question for the future. And I have a deviated septum too. So, I am managing it with daily Zyrtec, Singluair, and Flonase, all of which are (thankfully) inexpensive. I use a neti pot 2x per week to flush everything out (more often when the air is very dry). I have to say that after 8 months of this regimen, I have seen an improvement. I also got a barrier for my mattress and pillow cases, and I got rid of all but one of the rugs in my house. I think that helped tremendously. Good luck to you and keep us posted!
    Nancy B recently posted..How I Trained For a Marathon As a Full-time Working MomMy Profile

  6. I have had very similar experiences with my shots. The first time I tried them a few years ago I went into anaphylaxis on even the absolute lowest dose they could do. My allergist got my insurance to approve Xolair after he had my immunoglobulin tested and it was way above normal range. I had those shots for a few months, and when I tried doing allergy shots again last year it was much better. They still started really really low, but my IG levels were more normal after the Xolair so it hadn’t bothered me. I’ve been a bad patient and have missed 2 months between being sick, traveling and then a marathon that I didn’t want to put in jeopardy. I go back on Thursday and will kick it back into gear!

    Good luck! And ask your doctor about Xolair, it could be what helps you be able to handle shots and ultimately feel better!
    Cyanne (RunStretchGo) recently posted..The day I imagined Bart Yasso yelling at me on the treadmillMy Profile

  7. We are just starting the whole cycle again with my wife – she did the allergy shots similar to you, and always had a ‘not normal’ reaction, and it was like she was getting sick, and just as she felt better – shots again. She had more than a few setbacks in terms of lessening the doses and so on. Eventually she decided to stop … but her allergies to food and environment have slowly worsened.

    Now as this year she was getting hives from everything. So we’re starting with her on a Paleo-like diet (sound familiar), that is hard because it has to deal with her nut and coconut allergies, and also she’s going back for testing again … and probably more shots.

    Not easy, that is for sure!
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  8. Melanie says:

    I am glad that you have a new plan. It it truly a heart breaking thing when your body betrays you. I am going through that right now too for the 3rd time. It is just such a helpless feeling. I hope that you are able to find a happy place with your allergies and get to a place where you can tolerate them. I am wondering if you have ever had an exercise stress test. They can test your breathing while you are running and maybe it’s not just your allergies maybe it’s your lungs? Like exercise induced asthma. Sorry if I missed this if you have already gone that route. Anyway sending you big hugs and happy breathing thoughts :)

  9. Thinking about starting fresh at the beginning of each month is a great idea! I hope that March turns out to be better for you and your allergies.
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted..The Woodlands Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

  10. I started my shots this past summer and I am now on maintenance. I love how I feel now. I do not have to take Zyrtec every morning and I can breathe and do not feel the need to be near Kleenex all of the time. Sorry yours did not work.
    Running Librarian recently posted..Reston 10 miler and That Damn Juggler!My Profile

  11. So I’m going to comment because I think we were in very much the same boat and I’ve found something that’s working for me.
    Short version:
    1. I took allergy shots (3 at a time, like you) for mainly trees and grasses, for SEVEN YEARS. To no avail. Felt like I was getting worse, even. What’s the point of shots if you have to supplement them with multiple antihistamines?
    2. Made the jump (long overdue) to another allergy doctor who tested me again and promptly told me I probably should have stopped shots after about three years since it wasn’t doing the trick.
    3. He recommended a different approach and started me on a treatment of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Drops taken and held under the tongue daily. At home, not the dr’s office. Lasted maybe six months. My allergies improved DRASTICALLY.
    4. I am now on a daily dose of Flonase year-round but take NOTHING else. No other antihistamine needed. Which is nothing short of a miracle. I’ll repeat a round of the SLIT again this spring and then see where we’re at. For some reason, some people seem to respond to this, but not the shots.

    Ask about SLIT.

  12. Oh, wow. You must have been going through hell to put up with those shots. I’m so sorry this didn’t work. Hopefully you will find something that does!
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  13. That’s really disappointing to hear after you made such an investment in ramping up on the shots that they just won’t work for you. I had horrible allergies as a kid, and just took nasal sprays to help out. Hopefully the meds work for you and you can feel normal again soon. Hugs.
    Elizabeth C. recently posted..Shamrock Half Marathon: Breezy, Brutal, BeautifulMy Profile

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