Why Wait In the Clinic After Allergy Shots?

Last updated: March 2022

Years ago, all 3 of my kids needed allergy shots since they were allergic to just about everything. Before we started shots, our Allergy Doc carefully explained that we had to stay in the clinic for 30 minutes afterward since there was a risk of anaphylaxis. It makes sense if you think about it. You're being injected with tiny amounts of allergens so your body can slowly build up a defense. You might have an allergic reaction (it could be mild, though).1

Our experience with anaphylaxis

Since our family had pretty bad luck, we stayed for 30 minutes—every time.

Well, except once.

Middle Son was in the hospital with an asthma flare-up. My other kids played video games with him, but everyone was getting hungry. I decided we should leave the hospital, take Oldest Son to allergy shots, grab a pizza, head back to the hospital, and watch a video together. It sounds like an average multitasking mom day, right?

Deciding to leave allergy shots early

When we arrived at Allergy Doc's office, I told Shot Nurse that Middle Son was in the hospital with an asthma flare. I told her we didn't want to stay after shots because we needed to grab a pizza and get back to the hospital. She said (and I'll never forget this), "What are the odds that anything will happen? You guys should be fine."

So, Oldest Son had allergy shots, and we left to get pizza. We weren't far from the doctor when Oldest Son said, "Uh, mom. I think something's wrong."

I looked at him in my rearview mirror and was so shocked that I almost drove off the road. He was coughing, his face and neck were bright red, his eyes were glassy and bulging, and the veins in his neck were sticking out. I called Shot Nurse and told her Oldest Son was having anaphylaxis, and we were on our way back to the clinic.

Anaphylaxis after allergy shots

The nurse had the epinephrine and breathing treatment ready to go when we arrived. She started treating him as my young daughter sat on my lap, clutching her stuffed animal. She was wide-eyed and terrified, but I tried to control my panic. Moms have to do that, you know.

Allergy Doc came in several times to check on Oldest Son. During the craziness, I was startled to hear my phone ring. The Hubster was asking what was taking so long? He said they were hungry and waiting for pizza. I tried to keep a steady voice and told him I couldn't talk - that Oldest Son was experiencing anaphylaxis! He didn't even get in a word before I hung up.

The rebound effect

After a while, Shot Nurse and Allergy Doc felt that Oldest Son was stable enough to leave. But they warned me that he could have a rebound effect. This is when the anaphylaxis could come back after the epinephrine wears off.2

Allergy Doc prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector "just in case." I told him we were headed back to the hospital's pediatrics ward to see Middle Son, and he said, "Well, if he's going to have a rebound, what better place to be than in a hospital?"

I know he meant well, but I wasn't comforted by that thought.

We stopped at the pharmacy to pick up the epinephrine auto-injectors and went back to the hospital. By then, the reality of what had just happened had hit me. I relayed the story to the nurses, ordered a pizza to be delivered to the front desk, and collapsed in a chair.

Sharing this story as a warning to others

Thankfully, Oldest Son did not have a rebound, and Middle Son was released from the hospital a few days later.

I have shared that story countless times in hopes that it will help another person who doesn't want to stay in the clinic after allergy shots. You always think it's going to happen to "someone else." We were that "someone else," but it could be you next time.

Has anyone else had anaphylaxis after allergy shots?

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