What is Immunotherapy?
Allergies are caused by your immune system overreacting towards harmless substances the same way it would react towards something harmful like bacteria or a virus. Allergy immunotherapy slowly “trains” your immune system so you can tolerate these substances upon exposure. Allergy immunotherapy is a clinically documented treatment that may reduce or completely remove your allergy symptoms and the need for traditional, symptom-relieving medication. This kind of treatment has been in use worldwide for many decades and clinical studies have shown that it is both safe and effective.
Why Should I Consider Immunotherapy?
Among the wide variety of treatment possibilities available today, allergy immunotherapy is the only treatment that targets the cause of allergies and alters the natural course of the disease, which for many patients may lead to:
- An improved quality of life
- An end to discomfort and feeling ill
- Lower costs of symptomatic drugs
- Freedom to enjoy outdoor activities during allergy season
- Fewer problems having pets at home or visiting family or friends with pets.
How is Immunotherapy Given?
Your provider will work with you to develop a treatment plan. This plan will determine the frequency of your visits. Depending on numerous factors, you might receive shots or sublingual drops.
- For allergy shot patients, immunotherapy will begin with 1-2 visits per week until reaching the maintenance phase. After reaching maintenance, shot appointments will be less frequent occurring once every 4-6 weeks. Following each injection, you will be asked to wait for 30 minutes in your doctor’s office to be observed for an allergic reaction.
- For sublingual immunotherapy (drops), only the first dose is given in your doctor’s office with the remainder of treatment administered at home. Most sublingual medications are given daily and are to be taken at the same time of day.
When Will I Begin to Feel Better?
Many patients begin to see results as early as 3 – 6 months or shortly after reaching maintenance. Your need for antihistamine drugs may decrease and your symptoms may become less severe. Some studies have even shown that allergy shots may prevent the onset of other allergies and the development of asthma. Also, the treatment has a long-standing effect after it is discontinued. The most recent findings show that the benefits of allergy immunotherapy are maintained years after completing treatment. For some people, symptom relief may persist indefinitely. The key to success is BE PATIENT and CONTINUE TREATMENT. Your chances of seeing improvements in your allergy symptoms drastically increase the closer you follow your physician’s treatment plan.