Why do I have to get the shots in a doctor’s office? Are they dangerous? Some people I know receive their shots at home.
Shots can rarely cause severe allergic reactions. But most reactions that happen are only local at the site of the injection. They can be ignored, treated with an ice pack, or helped with an over-the-counter oral antihistamine such as Benadryl or Zyrtec. Local reactions usually come up a few hours after the injection and are not dangerous. More dangerous reactions can occur and involve the skin or airway by causing hives, swelling, asthma symptoms, or more classic hay fever symptoms. These reactions occur most often within 20-30 minutes of the allergy shot and are best treated by an injection of epinephrine. Only about 1% of patients receiving allergy shots ever experience a reaction like this. This is why all patients on allergy shots should be observed following an injection. Patients that are allowed to receive their shots at home are usually being treated by a physician who is not an allergist. This physician is also not following national guidelines for safety in immunotherapy. These shots are typically very weak compared to the recommended dose ranges and therefore may have a very small chance of causing a reaction. Of course these weaker shots may not help correct their allergy problems, either.