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Monday, January 11, 2016

When allergy shots don't work...


This is what it looks like when you have to be tested for allergies.This little guy doesn't look too bad. 

They can also test on your arms 

See all those red welts? That person is REALLY allergic to certain things (dogs, cats, horses, trees, flowers, etc.)

Daughter Kitty has had this done 4 times, yes - you read that right. 4 times over the years :(

Kitty also had to have allergy shots for over 5 years. AND THEY DIDN'T WORK!!!!! This is not for the faint of heart - you start out going to the doctor's office twice a week and gets a shot in each arm.(And you have to wait for 20 minutes so you don't have an allergic reaction)  Then you get shots once a week, then a couple of times a month until you reach "maintenance" - where your allergies are finally stable and you can slowly taper off the shots.

Well, that didn't happen for Kitty. We are back to the beginning. After 5 year's worth of shots, she is still struggling. That girl can sneeze 30 times in a row - easy! Then that makes her asthma flare up.

So, Asthma Doc retested Kitty (again.....) and sure enough - there were welts all over her back because she was allergic to so many different things. Sigh. (Do you mean to tell me that those 5 years were a complete waste of time??????)

This time, we may try Sublingual immunotherapy (drops under the tongue). The problem with regular allergy shots is that Kitty has HUGE lumps on each arm where she gets allergy shots (think lumps the size of half a hard boiled egg that is red and hot to the touch. The lump lasts for several hours while she holds cold packs on her arm.) Try holding a cold pack on your arm while you are trying to do homework.

This is just crazy! I haven't heard of anyone else that allergy shots didn't help. 

I have friends that have repeated allergy shots later in life - but not right after they finished their 5 year's of allergy shots.

Sigh. Just don't even know what to think right now.......   


  1. My allergies are mostly limited to dust and mold and a few food allergies. My allergist said allergy shots would be less effective on year round allergens because you are constantly exposed to them. I've been doing allergy shots for 3 years and haven't noticed a difference. I've had to miss several weeks because of lung infections though. Texas is unusually warm this winter. I will never know the satisfaction on a snow day. Don't move to Houston though. Texas has some of the largest mold counts in the nations and it is very polluted and humid here too.

    1. It's frustrating :(

      I don't know what to do!

  2. if allergy shots are ineffective after one year of maintenance, further shots will not be helpful. sublingual immunotherapy has no better response, in fact, the response may be poorer than traditional allergy shots. It makes no sense to repeat allergy tests if done properly. one would question the diagnosis of allergy if there is no response to traditional topical, oral, or other therapies. you might want to read the allergy handout at the site for current dx and tx re allergies!resources/c12om

    1. Thanks for the info.

      We have found that my daughter's allergies have changed over the years.

      During her first allergy test at age 5, she didn't show any welts that would qualify her for shots.

      2 years later, her allergy symptoms were so bad that we asked the doc to re-test her. Her back was full of huge welts. She qualified for allergy shots!

      Asthma Doc re-tested her about half way through and her cat allergy had increased dramatically, so he re-formulated her allergy shots.

      Many of her allergens have lessened, but some are worse.

      So frustrating!!

    2. When the doctor reformulated her shots, did she start over with a once a week schedule? We added a new formula to my daughter's shots, so she would get three shots once a month (the two old formulas plus the new one), then I would bring her every week for just the new shot.

    3. Wish I could remember - since I have had 3 kids go through allergy shots over a 10 year period, it's hard to keep track of which kid did what?!

  3. I was very disappointed that after 5 years of shots myself, that my allergy re-test showed my allergies were worse to my major triggers and I had some new ones. I am 38. I have indoor and outdoor allergies and can never get away from my triggers. I also have allergy and exercise induced asthma. Currently on Xyzal, Singulair, Qvar, Pulmicort (in nebulizer) and Xopenex as a rescue. Still not managed, but better. I have been seeing a Pulmonologist for the past few months and he has made changes that my allergist never even suggested. I was shocked. And doing much better without shots.

    1. I'm so glad you found something that would work for you. Allergies and asthma can be so frustrating since there is no one-size-fits all approach.

      At least you are doing better (even if my daughter is still struggling!)

  4. By the way, how do you feel about the garland texas middle schoolers who got suspended because one of them lent the other her inhaler? Later reports said that the student who used the loaned inhaler had been in the ICU for asthma. My first thought is why didn't she have an inhaler on hand? Did the school not allow her to carry her inhaler with her and locked it up in the nurse's office. When I was in public school, they insisted on leaving my inhaler in the nurse's office despite a doctor's note stating I should keep it with me. I snuck it in my backpack. Also I think reports of calling the inhaler a controlled substance is harmful and misleading. Inhalers aren't considered controlled substances by the FDA. An example of a controlled substance would be the adderall i take for ADHD or Xanax. Something that is commonly abused.

    1. I saw that story, I just blogged about it today (the 21st.)

      Would it qualify as a medical emergency? And the student should loan her inhaler?

      I'm not sure why the other student didn't have it. Maybe she left it at home?

      Mine goes everywhere with me - Disneyland, Grand Canyon, even Paris!!

  5. My son has been doing allergy shots for 15 months now and I'm not sure if they are helping. He is allergic to cats (and other things) but mostly cats. We have 3 kitties who I can't bear to re-home. I always wonder if I'm doing the right thing by getting the shots. By the way we have ALWAYS had cats and he didn't develop an allergy until around age 3.

    1. That's so frustrating. We also have cats (we inherited them from our neighbors.)

      They aren't allowed on my daughter's bed or in her room.

      But I know the dander can spread.

      After allergy shots, my daughter actually did get better with a few of her allergens, but some others are worse.

      Argh. I don't know what to do!

  6. What are doing??? Get rid of the cats! Not being able to breathe is misery.

    1. Yeah....I used to say the same thing to other people. "Are you nuts??"

      Then we started bonding with the cats. They can be VERY charming and cuddly and have a way of winning your heart.

      They are only allowed in certain areas, and can only lay on special blankets (which are washed weekly.)

      We are too far invested in our pet cats to just get rid of them. They are family members now and keep us company.

      We are officially "cat people" now. Sad, but true.

  7. I just finished getting cluster shots that got me to maintenance in 5 months. I don't notice any difference. I'm allergic to everything and so is my son. He will coughs for months in a row and none of the prescriptions help. I'm disappointed because I was hoping this would change my life. I too would get very swollen at the place of injection. It also makes me super sleepy. It's just a bummer.

    1. That is so discouraging!

      Are you seeing a specialist? Have you talked to him about your symptoms and how you are both still coughing?

      There are a LOT of medications on the market, you may need to try different medicines to find one that fits you.

      Since there is no one size fits all when it comes to asthma, it can be hard to find the right medicine.

      There are different phenotypes and endotypes. This may help:

      Have you talked to your doctor about Xolair? It's for people with allergic asthma.

      You will have to qualify with insurance - it's a pricey injection once or twice a month (about $1,000 per injection.)

      But helps with allergies and asthma.

      You will have to do a lung function test to see if you qualify as well as a blood test to check your Ig-E level.

      Some other injections are used if people have problems with eosinophils. Hopefully the article above will explain that.

      It's complicated, but don't give up. Keep working with your doctor until you feel like are in control (no long term coughing!)

      Good luck!

  8. Asthma mom, have you considered making kefir at home? It's super easy. There are other good cultured foods, besides kefir. I love the site
    My friend explained to me that staying on maintenance makes a huge difference, so that helped me to not expect it to be a cure. I knew from previous experience that the long regime ultimately only takes the edge off, but I need any relief I can get, so I will be glad for that.
    You can only imagine how I felt when I had cancer treatments and my oncologist told me that I would have to stop my allergy shots for a year! And I was finally at maintenance:( Well, so far so good as far as my cancer goes, but I have been miserable every day this whole year, lol!
    I hope you are keeping your daughter on maintenance because you don't want to lose any improvement you've gained, even if it's not much.
    I think it is good to be retested after a period of time, because people like us do tend to develop new allergies. And by the way, if her arms swell up more than is bearable,the doctor can lower the dose a bit.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hi Jamie, thanks for dropping by and glad you found something that helps you. Fingers crossed that your cancer treatment is successful!

      AS for re-testing, she has been re-tested 4 times, as her allergies have changed over time.

      She was our last child to go through allergy shots ( had 3 kids go through allergy shots over a 10 year period), and she is now finished!

      Asthma Doc did lower her dose after her arms swelled and reformulated her serum.

      Glad those days are over - that was a long 10 years of taking 3 different kids for allergy shots!