When allergy medicine isn’t working

And it’s that awful time of year again where I hoard tissues like a squirrel hoards nuts.

Many people that have allergies also have asthma, and allergies can trigger (or cause) an asthma attack.

Asthma is different for everyone, and the same is true for allergies. Some people may be miserable for a week or two while the trees are in bloom and then they are done with allergy season.

Wouldn’t that be nice?!

Allergens affecting asthma

In our family, our allergies are year round. Yep, you read that right. Many people are only allergic to pollen from plants. We are allergic to trees, flowers, bushes, grass, cats, dogs, horses, birds, dust, etc. So, we take allergy medicine year round, not just in the spring. But our allergies do get a little worse in the spring.We couldn’t control our allergies with allergy pills or nose sprays.

Allergy shots…the big guns

So, we had to go to the “big guns”….. allergy shots (immunotherapy). We decided to try allergy shots when Middle Son could easily sneeze 30 times in a row. All day. And all night.

So, we called Asthma Doc. He told us we had to be off all allergy medicine for a week before they could test him. And can I tell you just how much fun that is to have horrible allergies and not be able to take ANY allergy medicine – for a week? It was awful! After Asthma Doc examined our son and heard how his allergies were triggering asthma attacks, he had Shot Nurse come into the exam room.

Shot Nurse had her cart full of allergy serum. My son had to lay on his stomach while she marked his back in rows of dots. Next to each dot, she would scratch his back with a plastic vial that had serum inside. That would allow just a little serum to get under his skin. Then the fun started! Middle Son couldn’t move for 20 minutes. (Try keeping a kid entertained that has a REALLY itchy back.) Shot Nurse would come check on him every 5 minutes and watch the welts.

At the 20 minute mark, she would measure the welts. From the dots she had marked on his back, she could tell what he was allergic to. One row would be trees, one-row animals, etc. Then she would smear his back with anti-itch cream. That was the best part of the visit! Aaah..Then Asthma Doc would return and tell us the results. Middle Son qualified for allergy shots. This isn’t for those with mild allergies because it takes a LONG time – 3 to 5 years to be exact.

Shot Nurse ordered his vials of allergy shots. Once they came in, we would go to Asthma Doc’s office twice a week for a shot in each arm. (So really, 4 shots per week.) Then it was important to stay 30 minutes after each injection. Why? Since they are injecting you with something you are allergic to, you can have an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis.) Think it won’t happen to you? We didn’t either……but that’s a story for another time. Take my word for it – it will be the ONE time you need to leave early after shots and you will have anaphylaxis.

You are supposed to be able to slowly increase the amount of serum you can tolerate. Then decrease how often you go to the doc. After each shot, my son would get a red, itchy bump on his arm. The next time, Shot Nurse would ask him, “What size was your lump?” She taught him to measure it as the same size as a mosquito bite, dime, quarter or silver dollar. If his lump from the last shot was too big, Shot Nurse would have to wait to increase his serum.

All 3 of my kids ended up qualifying for allergy shots. Not at the same time, of course. So one kid would be at the twice a week stage of allergy shots, while another kid would be at the once a week or once a month stage. But I would have to drag all 3 kids with me to Asthma Doc’s office twice a week for about 10 years. I think my car could actually drive itself to his office.

If you aren’t finding relief with allergy pills or nose sprays, talk to your doc. We found that controlling our allergies helped to control our asthma.

And who doesn’t want better asthma control?

Anyone else had allergy shots? How did it go?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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