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“STOPPING” your allergy shots

I have been getting allergy injections for over 35 years now.  I am constantly hearing from people who "got shots" for like 5 or 10 years, and then just quit!  How nice.  Years ago, I tried to stop, but got very symptomatic and went back to them.  Anyway — I am thinking about trying to stop them, once again. 

Does anybody have experience with discontinuing allergy shots..?  How did it go?  Do you have any info or advice on dropping the shots, cold turkey?    

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  • Megan Roberts

    Wow that's a long time @JoeAllergy! So what is making you want to stop them this time? What does your doc think about it? 

    I do not get allergy shots; however according to Mayo Clinic webpage on some people are prescribed maintenance shots for a period of around three to five years. So I would bet there are people here in the community that have stopped after that period of time and are happy to talk about their experiences with it and share tips. @K8sMom2002 or @Kathy P do either of you get allergy shots? 

  • K8sMom2002

    That IS a long time … it's great that they help you, but what a bummer that if you stop, you become symptomatic again.

    I don't take allergy shots, and my DD can't take them anymore (her allergists advise against her getting them due to her unique health situation), but like Megan has pointed out, many people report stopping them after a long period of maintenance. And when my DD first started allergy shots, her allergist said the same thing — that it was a long-term commitment but not expected to be forever. 

    Could you speak to your allergist about this? 

  • Kathy P

    I've been on and off shots several times over the past 20+ years. When I've stopped them, it was usually because life got in the way and I just couldn't juggle the commitment anymore. And I was never sure if they were really "working."

    I'm currently 3 years into my current round. I have a hard time building up to maintenance. Then get hit w/ the remix and have to build up again! But, about a year ago, doc did some retesting of my worst offenders and a few suspect new allergies. What I learned was I now test positive to mold (didn't before – so now added to my shots) and some of the other numbers are coming down.

    Have you had testing lately to see what you are still showing allergic to? It has helped to have my shots tweaked to only be the most severe things and not everything.

  • Marie E Natzke

    Kathy P 

    I asked my allergist about retesting me but he said no. Because I'm being given everything in my shots and I'm given the highest dose possible. I'm noticing a difference since the ENT added the Budesonide to my nasal rinse to try to get my allergies under control. 

  • Marie E Natzke

    JoeAllergy,

    28 years ago I did the allergy shots for about 7 years and was able to stop. I was good for about 13 years and had to start getting them again. My Dr told me I'll need to get them for the rest of my life now. Before you just stop getting them talk with your Dr. Maybe they can try extending how often you go. I go every 3 weeks. I've heard of people getting a maintenance dose 4 times a year. 

  • Shea

    I never gotten allergy shots, but I think how they work is they inject tiny amounts of allergen to try to train your body build a tolerance to the allergens.

    I hAVE gotten injections of biologics like xolair and nucala that are anti- igE- and anti-eosoniophil and work that way to reduce allergic reactions by reducing those blood cells that are part of the inflammation-response of the body.

    I have stopped those type injections cold turkey after a while of taking them and no problems with that. But Im also stuck on steroids for this severe chronic allergic disease I have called Churg-Strauss Syndrome, and when I wean low on prednisone, I become symptomatic badly again with allergies/allergic asthma. So I am also working hard to find the right things to help my body.

    If I had to try to rationalize through the weaning or cold turkey on the allergy shots… Id day cutting down on the amount your injecting in an allergy shot , or how often, might make the shot not work as well as doing the normal regime.. So it might not really do anything to help you build a tolerance to the allergen anymore.. But it probably wouldnt hurt you either (not anymore than cold turkey at least). Your body might return to just reacting to the allergens in the air like it did prior to shots or it might be more tolerant and react to the allergen less (which would be great).

    But if you are still having allergies, strict avoidance and lowering exposure to the allergens would be the best you could do as far as non-medication things. I work with avoidance aLOT… And Im still finding new things to do to keep my home-indoor-air clean (I just got a new manufactured home all hardwood, and then HEPA purifiers, frequent linen washing, zippered cases, air cleaner, essential oils like eucalyptus and tea tree.) I just cant stand anything in my nose, but I heard nasal rinses can remove allergens caught in your nasal passages. A night shower would probably be a good thing too… One day Ill try to get a shower in every night, but Im a single mom and "aint no one got time for dat!" Lol (that is from some popular single mom meme online). 

    If you are not already, you could possibly try taking an OTC antihistamine, like benadryl at night, or claritin durin the day, (run all this by your doctor of course bc I dont know your medications and history and I am not a doctor–it is just what I do for myself). I figure if you are reacting to the allergens again after stopping the shots, then you can help reduce the resulting inflammation by reducing your production of histamine.

    I personally do not recommend singulair because I had a bad experience with it … My doctor said it is correlated with higher incidences of the disease I ended up getting… So Im pretty mad at singulair (but causation has not been proven, so it is just something to be aware of).

    I have a friend who recommended to me a supplement called quercetin. I started taking it. Im not sure if its doing anything. ? But Im going to pretend it is. Im sure you can google it and read up on it.

    I guess you just gotta talk to your doctor about picking your best allergy ammo while lowering/quitting… and then monitoring your bloodwork (for my allergic disease we look at eosinophils, which are in CBCs, and occasionally we look at  igEs which is a different blood test).

    And I recommend journalling or making notes of how you are feeling on here in message boards, just to note how the change is affecting you and how introduction of new medications is affecting you… I like to do that because I tend to forget to pay attention and check in with myself. 

    That is a lot of info. I tend to ramble on. Let us know how it goes!!! 

  • JoeAllergy

    Lo and behold, I am still getting the shots.. I don't know if I'll ever get brave enough to quit them, although that thought enters my mind now and again (just because of the inconvenience of the whole thing). I get them every 3-4 weeks.  My mother still gets them.. she has been getting them her entire life as well. 

    Some general doctors' offices (PCPs) don't even provide the service of giving the injections anymore.  From what I am seeing, it's a real pain and an interruption in their work for the nurses at a PCP to have to give allergy injections.  Fewer and fewer are doing it.  And the ones that are doing it are cutting down the number of days each week that they will give the shots.  Has anyone else noticed that the whole thing seems a major inconvenience for them?   (I wish I could give them to myself..)

  • Kathy P

    I've been doing shots for several years. I've been on and off a number of times – this is my third or fourth round over >25 years .

    They are definitely an inconvenience! I go to the allergy office. They gaha a separate shot room. Last year they went to appointments which you'd think would be great…but too structured for my life! Lol So I continue to do walk in, but it means I wait longer. Add the mandatory 30 min wait too. 

    My biggest struggle is that I'm sick a lot – sinus infection, asthma flare. Those mean I can't get my shots. So it's hard to schedule around that. 

    My remix was in March and I'm still trying to get back to maintenance dose. But I do notice a difference, so I continue to muddle through with them. 

  • K8sMom2002

    I have noticed over the past few years that more and more doctors are trying to streamline shots and other services. My previous job was one where I talked with a lot of docs (I was a liaison between docs and a home healthcare company), and so I saw how many of them handled things like allergy shots.

    Docs have told me they've moved to appointments for shots for several reasons.

    One thing several primary care physicians mentioned was that giving shots means that there IS a small risk of a severe allergic reaction. Some primary care docs stopped giving allergy shots after having a bad experience — they told me they didn't have the equipment or medications they felt they needed after a patient had a reaction. Maybe it wasn't a severe reaction, but they worried that it might be next time. They weren't allergists, so they didn't feel equipped to handle any possible complications.

    But other reasons are more mundane.

    One common reason I heard was the push to see patients. The idea of 15 minute established patient visits have become the norm, and there are only so many hours in a day, so they wanted to make sure everyone got the care they needed.

    Online patient reviews of docs have also had an impact. Docs have told me they don't like to keep people waiting in the waiting room. They don't want to get a reputation for being slow or for taking some people ahead of others (even though the patient may not be seeing a doctor that day). So moving to appointments for shots is one way they have found to manage the daily flow of patients. 

    Also, our old allergist said people tend to keep an appointment, but they may be more likely to skip a shot that can be done any time. He liked the fact that with an appointment, he could have his staff do auto reminder robo calls that included a reminder to bring their epinephrine auto-injector (no auto-injector, no shot).

    He added that he liked allergy shots to be done at a fairly equal time span if possible (sickness being one reason you'd skip one).

  • Melissa G

    My mom was getting shots for awhile, but like you said unfortunately it was becoming an inconvenience. The hours kept changing and it is 30 minutes from her house. She wasn't getting the shots when needed so her dose had to keep getting reduced. If her PCP would do it, my mom would have kept up with her shots, the dr's is five min from her house.