Can’t I Just Get A Shot Before The Season To Prevent These Allergies?

April 13, 2010

Every once in a while I have a patient who has heard of someone who received one shot and was fine the entire allergy season.  Invariably the story involves an older relative who used to get a shot just before the pollen season and swore it helped for the entire season.  The only medication that could possibly work in that way is a long acting injectable steroid.

The problem is, long acting injectable steroids are associated with way too many potential side effects to warrant using them in this way and for this purpose.  First of all it should be pointed out that these medications stay in your system and provide broad-based anti-inflammatory activity for about three weeks.  Do you really want to be injected with a drug with lots of potential side effects that could stay in your system for three weeks?  The more important potential side effects include: 1)increase in blood pressure, 2)suppression of the natural immune response of the body to infection, 3)suppression of the adrenal gland and 4)alteration in mood ranging from irritability to emotional lability to depression.

I never give injections of long acting steroids to patients with seasonal pollen allergy.   There are many good medications available with excellent side effect profiles that control symptoms in most patients.  Those who have particularly bad symptoms or whose symptoms do not respond to a combination of medications usually do benefits from shots, but not the single shot of a long acting steroid, but the series of shots commonly known as allergy shots.

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