The End of the Line: Allergy Shots Part 4

Last updated: July 2022

After years of frequent jabs in the arms to desensitize me to mold and dust mites I sat in the allergist's office for my regular check up. He asked me if I knew how long I had been doing allergy shots? I don't recall my answer, probably something like "it feels like forever". The actual answer, if you consulted my chart though, was as they might sing in the musical, Rent, 157,680,000 seconds my body had been learning not to overreact to these allergens. (Feel free to leave your calculator or slide rule in the drawer, aka 5 years). We now had reached another decision point, should I keep going with allergy shots for another year or longer. At this point, I had gone long enough to be considered a "full course" of allergy shots. There were some benefits that might be gained by continuing the shots on for an additional time. I might also see no benefit and would have the same risk of severe reaction that had been there all along.

The pros and the cons of continuing or stopping allergy shots

I asked some questions about the pros and cons. I was informed that there was no way to know if I would be one of the 'lucky' ones who would have the pleasure of coming off allergy shots only to find my symptoms returning. Neither personal nor family history nor current allergy or asthma symptoms would give me a hint as to the right path to take at this fork in the road. I wish science could provide me a clear rubric for the decision. I was somewhat caught off guard with the decision. I didn't go into the clinic appointment with the idea that I would have a treatment decision to make. In the back of my mind, I know that any time I head into the clinic I may need to make a choice about where we go from here.

How long does the allergy shots treatment last?

Thankfully with allergy shots, the decision is not a forever choice. If I chose to continue the course we would have the same conversation in 6 months at the end of my next vial of shots. The choice to end shots would mean that if allergy symptoms returned to my same level prior to shots we'd start over from square one. We could try different medications to keep my allergies and asthma at bay just like we had while I was doing allergy shots. We could also choose to start another round of allergy shots starting from the very beginning. I had a few minutes to consider my decision while the nurse came in to have me do spirometry. With this brief reflection, I decided to take the leap of faith and quit allergy shots. I needed to answer the What if?'s with real-life experiences. I would finish out the vial of extract they had for me. From there I would go forth into the allergen-filled world until my next checkup.
This is perhaps the final chapter my allergy shot journey. At present looks like I won't be starting up another round of allergy shots anytime soon. Have you also put a course of allergy shots in your rearview mirror as well?

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