Allergy Shots: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

When you get an allergy shot, your allergist or doctor injects small doses of substances that you are allergic to (allergens) under your skin. This helps your body "get used to" the allergen, which can reduce or prevent symptoms.

At first, you may need to get allergy shots once a week and then once a month. It may take up to a full year of shots before you see any change in your symptoms.

The allergy shot may cause mild problems, such as soreness, redness, warmth, or swelling on the arm where you got the shot. It may also cause itching, hives, or a rash that spreads to other parts of your body.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. Smoking makes allergies worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • If there is a lot of pollution, pollen, or dust outside, stay inside and keep the windows closed. Use an air conditioner when it's hot outside, and use an air filter in your home.
  • If dust or dust mites trigger your asthma, decrease the dust around your bed:
    • Wash sheets, pillowcases, and other bedding in hot water every week.
    • Use dust-proof covers for pillows, duvets, and mattresses. Avoid plastic covers, because they tear easily and do not "breathe." Wash as instructed on the label.
    • Do not use any blankets and pillows that you do not need.
    • Use blankets that you can wash in your washing machine.
    • Consider removing drapes and carpets, which attract and hold dust, from your bedroom.
  • If mould triggers your allergies, get rid of furniture, rugs, and drapes that smell musty. Check for mould under sinks and in the washroom, attic, and basement. Use a dehumidifier to control mould in these areas.
  • If pet dander triggers your allergies, keep pets outside or out of your bedroom. Old carpet and cloth furniture can hold a lot of animal dander. You may need to replace them.
  • If your allergies are triggered by cold air, wear a scarf around your face, and breathe through your nose.
  • Avoid colds and flu. Get a pneumococcal vaccine shot. If you have had one before, ask your doctor whether you need a second dose. Get a flu vaccine every fall. If you must be around people with colds or the flu, wash your hands often.

When should you call for help?

Give an epinephrine shot if:

  • You think you are having a severe allergic reaction.
  • You have symptoms in more than one body area, such as mild nausea and an itchy mouth.

After giving an epinephrine shot call 911, even if you feel better.

Call 911 if:

  • You have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or you may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
  • You have been given an epinephrine shot, even if you feel better.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives.
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Belly pain, nausea, or vomiting.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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