Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)

1. My 4-year-old son has asthma and allergies. His doctor wants him to start immunotherapy but my son is afraid of needles from his experiences with flu shots and other immunizations. How can I help him overcome his fear?
Children generally get over their fear of immunotherapy (allergy shots) when they realize it’s not as painful as they’d expected. The needle used is shorter and finer than with most other vaccinations, so the child feels less pain during the injection, and there is little soreness afterward. You might try taking your son’s mind off his fear by offering him a special treat after the appointment and bringing along a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or toy for him to hug or play with. Most important, shower him with lots of hugs and kisses!

2. I’ve read the information about allergy shots on your Web site. Can you tell me more about allergy shot success rates and a typical shot schedule?
Immunotherapy can greatly reduce your sensitivity to airborne allergens (from mold, dust mites, trees, grass, weed pollens, and animal danders). However, the success rate does vary from person to person.

In a typical treatment schedule, you will begin by getting an allergy shot once or twice a week. That schedule will continue for about six months, as your allergist gradually increases the concentration of allergen extract in your injections until your maintenance dose level is reached.

Depending on your response to therapy, your allergist may then decrease the frequency of your shots from once a week to once a month. Immunotherapy may continue for 3-5 years, at which time you and your allergist will decide if it is necessary to continue or not.

For best results, continue to avoid exposure to your allergens as much as possible.

3. My 6-year-old daughter was tested for allergies and is supposed to begin immunotherapy. Is it worth it when her allergies are only in the spring and fall?
You, your daughter, and your physician can answer this together. Discuss how your daughter’s allergy symptoms affect her activities and health during the spring and fall, then consider whether immunotherapy might help her more than allergen avoidance and/or medications.

Use the following questions to help guide you with your decision: (1) Have reliable allergy tests identified that your daughter is allergic to an allergen that can be successfully treated with immunotherapy? (2) Is the allergen one that is difficult to avoid exposure to in everyday life? (3) Do her symptoms consistently interfere with her daily activities? (4) Have her symptoms been difficult to control with allergy medications? (5) Are you and your daughter able to commit to the immunotherapy schedule?