Allergies are a fact of life for countless Atlanta-area residents. Hay fever, dust mites, insect bites and more can cause allergic reactions, in some cases bringing the potential for severe consequences. While allergies cannot be cured, they can be managed with methods such as immunotherapy. Immunotherapy treatment is used only after the allergy has been properly diagnosed through allergy testing.
In brief, immunotherapy builds tolerance through recurring allergy shots. If you are struggling with allergies, immunotherapy may be the best choice for long-term relief. It is similar to oral immunotherapy treatment, which desensitizes patients to food allergens through gradual consumption of the food the person is allergic to.
Immunotherapy involves receiving allergy shots containing small amounts of the offending allergen. Allergy shots are given at regular intervals, and are administered by an experienced allergist.
Over time, the level of allergen in each shot is gradually increased to desensitize the body. Your immune system will be triggered by the allergen, though not enough to cause a severe reaction. As treatment progresses, your body should be able to come into contact with the allergens without a negative response.
Immunotherapy is not appropriate for every allergy out there. If you experience the following allergies, your doctor may recommend immunotherapy treatment:
Hay fever, allergic asthma and pollen-related allergies can all benefit from immunotherapy.
Reactions to mold, dust and animal dander that cause inflammation inside the nose.
Eczema-Immunotherapy may be an option if creams and medicines have proven ineffective.
Severe reactions to stings from wasps, bees and other insects can be prevented with allergy shots. Your doctor may suggest immunotherapy if other treatments have failed to work. The following circumstances may indicate that immunotherapy treatment is appropriate.
When it is difficult to avoid the allergen that causes a reaction.
Medication has not worked to prevent allergic reactions.
You have severe or life-threatening allergic reactions.
You cannot take medication due to an existing condition.
Are there risks with an immunotherapy treatment?
Since you are coming into contact with an allergen, there is potential for an allergic reaction. However, allergy shots are conducted under medical supervision, and to further reduce risk, the doses are minimal.
How can I be sure I am being treated for the right allergy?
Your doctor will conduct an allergy test before any treatment. A skin prick test exposes you to small amounts of allergens to test for reactions. Alternately, a blood test will analyze for allergen-specific antibodies.
How long does the process take?
Initially, you will need to build up immunity by receiving allergy shots at least weekly over the course of 3–6 months. You can then switch to a maintenance schedule that requires monthly shots. The maintenance period typically lasts from 3–5 years.
Immunotherapy treatment is an effective option for allergy sufferers. If you are interested in this treatment, get in touch for an appointment with Dr. Kim Schmitt.