Ultimate Guide to Allergy Immunotherapy

Sep 16, 2021

Ultimate Guide to Allergy Immunotherapy

3 minute read

If you suffer from seasonal allergies and allergic reactions, you might be thinking that you’re destined to deal with your symptoms every year for the rest of your life. However, thanks to the power of immunotherapy, there’s a strong possibility that your body can build up a tolerance to your allergy triggers, potentially even eliminating the need for daily medication in the long run.

Allergen immunotherapy is an incredibly innovative form of allergy therapy, and it’s one of the treatment methods that we specialize in here at Cleared.

Immunotherapy Explained

So, what is allergy immunotherapy? Essentially, it’s a treatment method that works by introducing your body to your allergy triggers in small, slowly increasing doses. Since these allergens cause your immune system to overreact, leaving you with uncomfortable symptoms (such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, itchy throat and more...), your body needs time to adjust and inoculate.

During the build-up phase, the amount of an allergen that your body is exposed to helps your immune system to recognize that your allergy trigger isn’t harmful. Over time, through consistent immunotherapy treatment, your body starts to realize that allergens aren’t a real threat, and your immune system gets less sensitive. That means your symptoms decrease!

You’ll Need an Allergy Test to Have Success with Immunotherapy

Successful immunotherapy treatment starts with a comprehensive allergy test (Could it be: Dust mites? Grass pollen? Ragweed pollen? Or something else?). You can do allergy testing via a blood test (at home or at a lab) or an experienced allergist administers this test in the office and usually involves introducing small amounts of common allergens to a small patch of skin. By checking if any allergens cause a reaction, an allergist can determine your symptoms’ sources.

Once you’ve got an allergy test, your allergist can prescribe you an immunotherapy treatment that specifically targets the allergens that cause your symptoms. Immunotherapy medications currently exist for numerous allergens, including grass pollen, house dust mites, and more.

Want to learn more about immunotherapy? You’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover everything you need to know in this post.

Types of Immunotherapy

Some of the most common types of immunotherapy are subcutaneous and sublingual treatments. Subcutaneous treatments are shots that an allergist can administer to target specific allergens.

Sublingual immunotherapy is a treatment method that, instead of shots, involves taking daily allergy tablets. Sublingual treatment targets a specific allergen, working to build up your immune system’s resistance to it and lower its sensitivity. Over time, sublingual immunotherapy can have a significant impact on your symptoms. Eventually, you might not even have to take daily allergy medication anymore after successful immunotherapy treatment.

How Effective Is Immunotherapy?

At this point, research shows that immunotherapy treatments can be beneficial for conditions like seasonal allergies and perennial rhinitis. However, the treatment is not necessarily an effective means of addressing severe asthma or food allergies symptoms.

The Stages of Subcutaneous Immunotherapy

If you choose to get allergy shots to help manage your symptoms, your treatment will go through several stages. The process goes as follows:

  • The Buildup Phase: At the beginning of subcutaneous immunotherapy treatment, a patient will get injections once and twice a week. This phase can last for up to a year but is sometimes as short as just six months. These shots build up in dosage over time to help get your immune system used to the influx of allergens.

In some cases, a sufferer of allergies can undergo rush immunotherapy. In this style of immunotherapy, an allergist administers shots in higher doses during the buildup phase, leading up to a maintenance dose in less time.

However, some patients’ immune systems react negatively to the rush method, so an allergist has to approach this treatment strategy on a case-by-case basis.

  • Maintenance Phase: After building up dosage sizes over time, a patient can get the same dose with each treatment. These treatments are more spread out, taking place every two or three weeks for three to five years.

This might sound like a long time, but it’s worth the investment for the sake of long-term relief from allergy symptoms. The decision on how long to continue immunotherapy is made with your allergist.

During subcutaneous immunotherapy treatment, an allergist will carefully monitor the patient to make sure the patient does not have any reactions to the shot. Occasionally, the increased dose used in an allergy shot can cause a negative reaction, so an allergist will usually watch a patient for around 30 minutes after their treatment session ends.

The Types of Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual treatment is the type of immunotherapy that Cleared specializes in. This treatment method doesn’t require appointments for shots, and it’s intended to target specific allergens. Sublingual treatment is best for allergy sufferers who are triggered by seasonal pollen, dust mites, or other similar allergens.

Several medications can be used to reduce the immune system’s sensitivity to certain allergens. These include the following meds:

  • Grass Immunotherapy Tablets: If a patient is allergic to Timothy grass, Grastek is the perfect immunotherapy treatment for them. Taking grass immunotherapy tablets can, over time, build up the immune system’s resistance, getting your body used to Timothy grass exposure and reducing symptoms.

  • Ragweed Immunotherapy Tablets: This immunotherapy medication is used to treat ragweed allergies. If you typically suffer from fall allergies, it’s a great idea to get tested to see if ragweed is the cause. If so, it’s a great idea to look into ragweed immunotherapy tablets.

  • Dust Mite Immunotherapy Tablets: If you’re allergic to dust mites, dust mite immunotherapy tablets can help. Dust mites feed on dead skin cells and can live indoors in carpets or upholstery. These tiny creatures cause allergy symptoms in many people, but treatment is possible thanks to immunotherapy.

TGet Started With Immunotherapy Today With Cleared

If you’re ready to give Immunotherapy a try, get started today by ordering an at-home allergy test from Cleared. We’ll use your test results to determine which immunotherapy treatment is best for you.

Reviewed by Dr. Payel Gupta

Sources:

Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy) | AAAAI

Allergy Immunotherapy | Allergy Treatment | ACAAI Public Website

Allergies and the Immune System | Hopkins Medicine


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