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Medication Desensitization

If you have been diagnosed with a medication allergy, there may still be a need for you to take this specific medication despite your underlying issues. In this case, you will likely need to be desensitized to this medication. The purpose of the desensitization is to induce a tolerance to the medication so that you can receive it safely. During the desensitization procedure, you are given increasing doses of the drug over time. Once the desensitization procedure is done, you MUST take the medication as prescribed. It is very important that you understand that this is not a “cure” for the drug allergy. You will only remain desensitized for as long as you are taking the medication.

Preparing for the Test

Please follow your doctor’s directions for pre-medication when getting ready for this test.

  • Continue to take all the medicines as you usually do
  • If you are diabetic, please bring your blood glucose monitor and medicine, including insulin
  • If you feel sick, please call to speak with a nurse. We may need to cancel the appointment
  • Please check in at the Front Desk
  • If your history is that of a severe reaction, it may be recommended that the desensitization takes place in the hospital setting. This will be discussed and arranged by Dr. Mjaanes, the allergy clinic staff and the medical facility to which you will be directed

During the Test

You will check into the Allergy and Asthma Center. You may bring reading materials, a laptop or a tablet to use during your procedure. The Allergy and Asthma Center has wireless access for your technology devices. You may bring your lunch and/or snack food.

When you arrive, the nurse will explain what will take place during the desensitization. If you have any questions, please ask. You will be placed in the challenge room within the center and you will have frequent monitoring of vital signs and lung function. The nurse may start an IV. The IV would be used to give medicine in case you have a significant reaction during the desensitization.

You will begin the desensitization by receiving a small dose of the medication. The dose will be increased every 20 to 30 minutes during the day unless you have a reaction. You will be monitored closely by a nurse during the desensitization. Dr. Mjaanes will be available to provide evaluation or treatment in case of any symptoms. Possible symptoms include rash, swelling, itching, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, wheezing, nasal congestion and a runny nose. You may be given some medicine to treat symptoms if they develop.

Once the desensitization is completed, Dr. Mjaanes will discuss the results with you, answer your questions, make recommendations and review your treatment plan.

Length of the Test

Medication desensitization may take several hours. You will come to center each morning and stay all day. You are closely monitored so you won’t be able to leave center during the day.

After the Procedure

Once the procedure is complete, you will need to continue to take the medication every day, as prescribed to remain desensitized. Dr. Mjaanes and your referring physician will determine the correct dose and treatment regimen for you before discharge. Once you are desensitized to the medication, you will remain desensitized only for as long as you continue to take the medication daily.

If you go 24 or more hours without remembering to take your medication, you will need to contact Dr. Mjaanes for further consultation. Do not re-start it on your own without speaking to our staff first, because you could have a reaction.