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Allergy Shots and MS?
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Allergy Shots and MS?

Watching Sanjay Gupta this morning on CNN, he had an allergist/immunologist guest who was talking about how allergy shots work.  That got me to thinking:  Did the shots I took for about 20 years make my immune system overreact and cause demyelination?  If kicking into overdrive because of an EBV infection or other viruses is a suspect in the cause of MS, have these other things been looked at?

I recall someone whose mom had Parkinson's trying to convince me that allergy shots were a bad idea because they had been linked with that disease, but I've never researched it or looked for studies about a connection between allergy immunotherapy and either Parkinson's or MS.

Just so you know, I got great results from the shots.  The person who was telling me about the Parkinson's was my boss, and I told him that if I didn't have the shots, I would have a severe sinus infection and miss work at least a few days every month, and he would fire me (because he's an **sh**e), so I was willing to take the risk.  Over the years my allergist weaned me off of them a few times, and the symptoms came back, until finally in the last years they weren't necessary any more.  Now I get by with a daily Claritin.  My nose runs a little, but I don't get those horrible sinus-clogging infections or asthma any more at all.

So, I'm wondering how many of us LimboLanders and those who are dx'd have ever taken allergy shots, and if so, can you tie them to onset of symptoms.  (I stopped mine probably 10-12 years ago.)  Just a little something to distract us.

Holly
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16 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm not quite sure of the connection you're making. I know that allergy shots introduce tiny and gradually greater amounts of the allergen so that the system gets used to it very slowly. Are you wondering if your immune system over-reated to them and MS resulted?

To the best of my knowledge (which isn't saying a lot), this doesn't happen. The body's reaction to an outside substance is generally normal and healthy. If we breathe in a piece of dust we sneeze to get it out. That's to the good. If we breathe in or eat something that isn't harmful but our bodies decide it is, that's an allergic reaction. It's a way exaggerated response to a tiny irritant. But all of this invoves 'outside substances.' MS, though, involves only ourselves. The healthy body knows the difference between self and other, but not the MS body.

ess
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359574_tn?1328364024
Yeah, that's the connection I'm making in my amateur fashion.  MS is an autoimmune disease, but the Epstein-Barr virus is highly correlated to it.  Also to transverse myelitis.  Heck, poliomyelitis was/is caused by a virus.  In TM, one of the possible triggers is overreaction of the immune system to an infection, and then the immune system gets confused and starts attacking the CNS--shifts into the autoimmune mode.

So, allergy shots challenge the immune system and teach it not to react to the allergen.  It says "Hey, this is the same old stuff that was here last week, so I'll just ignore it."  Maybe that's enough to confuse it into attacking the CNS, just like a real infection might.

On the other hand, the whole point is to get the immune system to STOP overreacting to stuff, so maybe immunotherapy can actually work something like the ABC meds?  This is really getting convoluted :)

Holly
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359574_tn?1328364024
And the only place I've ever head of a Parkinson's connection was from my former boss, and we have already established that he is an **sh**e.  He's also an idiot and a manipulative SOB.
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a nurse and also I have MS. I work for an allergist/immunolgist. It has been his experence in the last thirty years that patients who have MS and take allergy shots do well in relationship to their MS. He states that allergy shots produces T cell suppressors called CD cells that control allergies and MS. I started shots seven years ago when I came to work for him. I take no MS drugs and since I started the shots all my MRIs have shown NO change and no new symptoms.  This is also true for the other two patients he has who also have MS. We just did t cell studies on all of us and have sent the results to a MS immunologist who does this type of research.  We are waiting to hear for him. I hope this is helpful.
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198419_tn?1360245956
Hi Lisa420!

You've popped onto a thread that was started months back, and I'm afraid our members may not see you here at the bottom of this thread.

I'd like to welcome you, and I'm so glad you've joined.  We would love to learn more about your experiences if you feel comfortable sharing.  When were you diagnosed? And, was it hard decision to make i.e., not taking the DMDs?

Your Office sounds so very proactive with t-cell studies, and it would be a great topic to introduce here if you like, I know I'm interested.

Hope you continue to do well with your MS.
See you around,
-Shell
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Avatar_n_tn
I just checked back to this site. I would like to post this info but do not know how to do that. I am still doing great and so are all the other patients.
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Avatar_m_tn
I know this thread is a little old, but applies directly to me. I was also wondering about any possible connection, as there is a possibility I will be starting allergy shots sometime here. I was on them about 7-8 years ago due to severe allergies (allergic to most of what they tested with many of them not measurable as they merged together on my arm), and stopped after 6-12 months due to financial reasons.

I started having symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis within 1 to 3 months of starting the shots (had surgery for deviated septum, nasal polyp, and chronic sinusitis at the same time of starting the shots), and was diagnosed several months later. The initial MRI indicated severe lesion/activity load (what would be seen from someone who had MS for years), in which the neurologist felt I had intense acute fulminate MS and would probably be wheelchair bound in just a few years. A little time after being diagnosed I stopped the shots due not having the money as well as all the excitement going on with the MS. In the time since being diagnosed I have had very moderate/few symptoms (but some MRI activity still ongoing in check up MRIs) until October last year where my lower left arm and hand went not quite fully numb. Within the last couple months the feeling has been almost normal with sensation just a tad off.

Anyway, my mother is paranoid about me starting back on them considering the short span of time between the onset of both with the allergy shots being related to the immune system. At the moment I know we can't really claim for sure either way that it can have any effect in the cause of MS, but with little known about what actually initiates it (combination of many factors even?) it makes one wonder. At the same time I wonder if it could have a beneficial effect instead as Lisa mentions, and would be interested in what they found. For about the last couple years I have been having to constantly clear my throat from what it seems to me from constant drainage, and recently starting to wheeze. Just now I have been able to see a ENT doctor, and it looks like he is going to want me back on the allergy shots after he does an allergy test first next month.

So that is my story and my search for any info at all about any possible connections. With my severe allergies, I am inclined to start back on the shots anyway, if I have the money. One of the things I've also wondered about is how many of those with MS also have had a history of bad allergies, where the body seems intent on being allergic to a lot of things.
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1734735_tn?1366329918
I did have a similiar thought when I was first diagnosed that it must be something related to either the flu needle or allergy shots. I had the flu shot this year and last year for the first time. Then last year and the previous year I had allergy shots. I was thinking of asking for my money back but alas I have cooled down alot since that time.

I am more convinced now that there are some inherited genes responsible but largely environmental factors such as diet that tip us over the edge. Oddly, my allergy symptoms have all but gone away since developing MS.

There isn't any evidence of MS in my direct or immediate family which is strange when looking at the statistics. However, I suspect my Dad probably had the genes for it but ate an incredible diet of fresh fruit, fish and nuts and didn't ever develop MS.

I did try to blame this and that previously but now it is much easier to make peace. Easier than making love at present.lol

Blessings
Alex
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for your reply. I accept that I will never know for sure at the moment besides that by all appearances there are multiple factors involved with MS, as you you say, and requiring further research. Genetics wise, my cousin was diagnosed with MS a few years before I was (so at about the same age). My vitamin D levels have stubbornly remained low even during directly prescribed attempts by the direction of my neurologist to raise it.

Too bad my allergies didn't disappear lol.Unfortunately what I am most severely allergic to among the batch is the plant growth dominant and plenty in the region I live. That first allergy test I mentioned, resulted in an intravenous dose of antihistamine out of precaution in seeing what was going on with my arm. If anything, I am inclined to see what happens if and when I start receiving allergy shots again. May even be beneficial regarding the MS for all we know.

I personally am not devastated by having MS; there are worst things out there after all. My mother on the other hand... haha. Nothing dare get in the way of a mother's love for her child :) So I appreciate your response, being curious about other people's experiences and possible news I'm may not be aware of. As I am 28 years old, I most likely still have quite a bit of time ahead of me.

God bless,
Zimmerk
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi, I just want to share my story.
When i was 13 years old i was reciving an allergy shoots tratment, during that time i develop Relapsing Polychondritis, its a very uncommon autoinmune disease, i had messangial glomerulonephritis as part of my autoinmune problem, i have 10 years sick, and all of the doctors told me that its very possible that exist a relation with the allergy shots and the auto inmune problems.

What do you think?

This is mi email if you want to add me ***@****

We can share experiences.
Carlos
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1453990_tn?1329235026
There is no established link between allergic response desensitization (allergy shots) and MS.  Allergy shots suppress the immune response to specific allergens, they do not "super charge" the immune system.  

The fact that someone has an abnormal response to an allergen is more of a supercharged response than the allergy desensitization process.  Allergy shots are more along the line of the way the DMDs function by selectively suppressing the immune response.

Bob
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Avatar_m_tn
And what about the adyunvants that the vacciantions have? they can make you inmune sistem to overreact and thats the cause of the autoinmune problems.

Do you know what kind of  adjunvants allergy shots contain?

Thanks
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1453990_tn?1329235026
Aluminum gels or aluminum salts are the only vaccine adjuvants currently licensed for use in the United States.  

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/adjuvants.html

Vaccines are meant to mount an immune response.  Allergy shots are designed to suppress an immune response.  They have two very different goals and act very differently in vivo.

There are other additives like preservatives but there are no other pharmacological agents that are used to modify or enhance the effect of the allergen.  In general, "allergy shots"  start out as very small doses of very large dilutions of the allergen,  I have seen doses as small as 0.1ml of 1:100000 dilution.  The doses increase and then you move up to the next dilution and drop the dosage back down.  

By continued exposure to the allergen, the desired effect is to trick the immune system into thinking that the offending substance is normal and to suppress the immune response.

Bob
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for your information, but well im not really sure of what kind of adjunvants use for allergy shots in my country, and i have found like 4 cases of people that develop an autoinmune problem when they recive this vaccinations, just like me,and other think that we can consider is that
some who receive allergy shots,will experience a lupus flare following treatment.

In 1989, the World Health Organization recommended that people with autoimmune diseases should not receive certain types of allergy shots.

Allergy shots might cause the person to make more anti-DNA and other lupus-related antibodies in addition to making antibodies against the agent causing the allergy.

People with lupus are advised to consult their rheumatologist before receiving any type of allergy immunotherapy.

So in my personal opinion if a allergy shot can have this effects on a person that is sick, its obvious that the allergy shots can be a factor for develop a autoinmune disease.

Carlos

Thanks
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147426_tn?1317269232
I saw your response to this question a week ago and meant to give an answer then, but I saw a squirrel and ran off.

You have the mechanism of allergy shots completely wrong and since allergies and the immuno therapy for them is very common, I felt it was important to correct what you said.

First, allergies are an inappropriate activity of the part of the immune system responsible for being allergic.  While any person can develop allergies, they are most common in people in people who are genetically predisposed to develop them.  It is typical in allergic people to find a history of asthma, hay fever, allergic conjunctivitis, and eczema along with occasional histories of hives and anaphylactic reactions and such.  Also it is common to find these things in the family history.

For some people, the allergic immune response is truly hypercharged.  What is important to know is that the immunology of common allergies is completely separate from the immune response to things like infections.  In allergies, for some unknown reason, the immune system sees foreign substances (usually proteins) and recognizes them as a threat.  In response to this threat the body makes a special type of antibody called IgE.  If you remember, the antibodies we use in vaccines make the body produce temporary IgM and then longer lasting IgG antibodies.

In allergies the high levels of circulating IgE act to coat specialized white cells, called "mast" cells, thus priming them to react when that particular antigen (antigen is a substance that triggers the immune response).  When the pollen, or dander or whatever comes into contact with those IgE-primed mast cells, the cell explodes and releases histamine.  the histamine then starts the cascade of events that ends up causing the sneezing, watering, wheezing, or swelling of hives, etc.

Now, this is what really needs to be clarified.  Allergy shots are formulated just as you say, starting with tiny amounts and gradually moving up in the amount.  But, what the shots do is NOT to suppress any part of the immune system.  The shots stimulate the production of antibodies just as if we were giving a vaccine against the allergen.  However, this time the body makes a different type of IgE antibody called "blocking antibodies".  These blocking antibodies block the receptors for the antigens on the mast cells and on basophils.  So when the allergen  is encountered, the allergic repsonse does not take place.

At no time does the immune system stop recognizing the allergen as harmful, though in the end, sometimes allergy shots will cause the body to stop its production of the original harmful IgE antibodies.  But, also, some people will lose their allergies on their own without immunotherapy.  By the same token it can disappear only to reappear later on in life.  

So, allergy shots work to stimulate the immune system in the same way that vaccines do.  They do not act like the DMDs.

There is not association, as mentioned, between allergies or allergy shots to the development of MS nor of autoimmune diseases - which function by an entirely different action of the immune system.

A related thought, to be reassuring to those allergic people among us, is that many experts believe that there is less cancer among very allergic people do to the "hypercharged" nature of the immune system.  This is mostly anecdotal, but I have seen studies in the past that appeared to give weak support to this observation.

Quix
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Avatar_m_tn
Yes they can... Just read this

Subcutaneous allergen-specific immunotherapy (SCIT) is a well-documented treatment of IgE-mediated allergic disease.

Little is known about potential effects of SCIT on the risk of other chronic immune-related diseases. Over the years, a few casuistic reports have caused concern that SCIT might act as a trigger of autoimmune disease.

Also this vaccinations affect the T cells that make the equilibrium of the inmune sistem.

They can develop the autoinmunty like in my case.

Carlos
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