Any experience with allergy shots?
April 05, 2016
My allergies were changing in both duration and severity for years...started out as seasonal, then seasonal and what seemed like cat, then to year-round + worse during allergy season + cat. I got tired of the moving target and got tested.

Turns out it's cat (no shock), dust mite, and a few grasses. Yay.

I'm continuing my OTC antihistamine regimen, but the doc did mention allergy shots as a possibility. I realize it's a very long-term thing, and won't yield instant results. I'm okay with that. I just want to lessen the symptoms, especially to cats. My current cat is very elderly (18) but still doing well. Not only is rehoming her unthinkable, but also I think I may want a cat in the future sometime. I grew up with them and they're one of my favorite animals.

So...has anyone done allergy shots? If so, what was your experience like? Trying to decide if I want to make this investment.
Re: Any experience with allergy shots?
April 07, 2016
I developed really bad allergies when I was 18. Watery eyes, constant sneezing, runny nose, the works. It was Very. Bad. I was allergic to almost everything they tested me for. I got the shots for 10 years.

I started with two vials (meaning two shots each time) but at the 5 year mark my allergies went nuts again. They retested me and found out I had developed a new allergy (to the one thing I had not reacted to the first time) that they needed to add to my serum. This brought me up to three vials, and I had to begin the process again with three shots each week.

I say begin the process again because here is how it works: you begin by getting your shot(s) once a week, and then after a while you move to two weeks, then three, then finally once a month. I was supposed to be done after about five years, but that's when I developed the new allergy so I had to go back to once a week and start again. Cats, dust mites, molds, pollens, grasses, trees...and something else, I think? So it took ten years.

Did I mention that I hate needles? Since I was getting three shots I had to use both arms. But you get used to it. Just turn your head, close your eyes, and relax your arm. I got my shots in the upper arm. It hurts more if you're tensing up.

When you get the shot you have to stay at the doctor's office for 20 minutes in case you have a bad reaction and stop breathing. Then the nurse will look at your arm, and then you can leave. I never stopped breathing, but my injection sites always developed hard, red, swollen, warm bumps that were about the size of my palm. And they itched. This happened every time and so I had an EpiPen that I was supposed to carry on injection days. I guess you're not supposed to grow itchy red balls on your arm.
Oh well, I never needed it. (Maybe everyone gets the pen; I don't know. But the spots on my arms always raised some concern.)

Anyway, it was totally worth it. I still have to take Zyrtec if the pollen count is high or whatever, but it is just SO MUCH BETTER than it was. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND it.

"Not every ejaculation deserves a name" - George Carlin
Re: Any experience with allergy shots?
April 09, 2016
Thank you for the information, LoveToLurk. It's really helpful in the decision making process for me.

My immune system seems to have taken a similar trajectory to yours: I grew up with cats, and I spent a ton of time running around outside in spring and summer--no problems. Then I hit about age 19 or so and I noticed I reacted to the dear old family cat when I would come home on breaks from college. I got my own cats without any major problems, but I also lived in a desert climate at the time. I knew I seemed to have a reaction, but I really had to be careless for it to be problem, and I seemed to react to others' pets way more than my own. Then I moved to the PNW and after about five years my immune system went "fuck this!" and freaked out with similar symptoms to yours: itchy, watery eyes & swollen lids; constant runny nose and congestion; itchy palate; bizarre itchy rashes sometimes.

The nurse explained the immunotherapy procedures pretty well...I don't mind if it takes years to build up. I want to be able to NOT have year round allergies. Popping cetirizine during peak allergy seasons is totally workable! Right now I'm on that stuff plus another med ALL the time (and much more comfortable for having them in my system), it doesn't completely control the symptoms...especially this time of year when everything is fucking blooming and growing all over the place and my cat is shedding like a mofo.

I am okay with needles & give blood/plasma/platelets when I can.
Re: Any experience with allergy shots?
April 10, 2016
Yup, I grew up around cats as well, which is why the severe cat allergy was especially odd. When my parents brought infant me home from the hospital, it was to a house with two cats.

They say that you tend to be less allergic to your own pets, since being around them all the time allows you to build up an immunity. I could never really tell if this was true or not.

As I said before, I highly recommend the shots. Good luck!

"Not every ejaculation deserves a name" - George Carlin
Re: Any experience with allergy shots?
October 01, 2017
Update: I started allergy shots a few months ago (had to wait for the proper constellation of time, insurance, and money). The doc did say that if I still have cats or cats in my home, I won't necessarily build up immunity to them via the shots, because of the constant allergen level. That does make sense. Geriatric cat is still around and still awesome. So for futire cats I will at least be making an informed choice.
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