Immunotherapy is effective in:
- Treatment of nasal allergies
- Treatment of asthma
- Treatment of atopic dermatitis if associated with dust mite allergy
- Preventing asthma from developing in patients at risk
- Reducing symptoms and medication use in patients with asthma or nasal allergies
- Treatment of patients that develop allergic shock (anaphylaxis) to insect stings (bees, wasps, fireant)
Who can prescribe immunotherapy?
Only a Trained and Qualified Allergy & Immunology specialist can evaluate your allergies correctly and formulate the correct immunotherapy to treat your allergies. (Example of Qualified Allergy & Immunology specialist are physicians board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology)
Beware of any untrained person offering immunotherapy.
What forms of immunotherapy are there?
Injection immunotherapy is the best studied and most effective form of immunotherapy for allergic diseases. Another method of immunotherapy which is recognized by Word Health Organization is sublingual immunotherapy.
What is the difference between the two forms of immunotherapy?
Injection immunotherapy (shots)
Injection immunotherapy is given via injections and is the most effective form of immunotherapy. Treatment begins with a buildup phase once a week until target dose is reached usually within 4-6 months. Once target dose is reached, injections can be given once a month. Treatment duration is generally 3-5 years to obtain maximal long lasting effect. Risks involved in injection immunotherapy is rare, but because of the risk of severe allergic reaction, immunotherapy injection must be performed in a doctor’s office with a 30 minute wait period in the office after the injection. Injection immunotherapy is effective in patients who have multiple allergic sensitizations.
Sublingual immunotherapy (drops)
Sublingual immunotherapy is given via drops under the tongue. It is more convenient than “shots” because this form of immunotherapy can be done at home. However, this form of immunotherapy is not without side effects. Sorethroat, mouth itching and lip swelling can occur. Treatment duration is generally 3-5 years to obtain maximal long lasting effect. Proper dose of sublingual immunotherapy will also cost more than injection immunotherapy because more allergen vaccines are needed to formulate the sublingual immunotherapy. Sublingual immunotherapy is generally not so effective in patients who are allergic to multiple things.
A qualified Allergy & Immunology specialist can help determine which form immunotherapy is appropriate for the patient.
Decision to begin immunotherapy will be based on several factors:
- Desire to avoid long term medication use to control symptoms of allergies
- How well medications are controlling symptoms
- Time. Immunotherapy requires at least 3 year commitment to obtain lasting benefits in most patients
- Costs. Immunotherapy requires up front costs but has been shown to cost-effective in the long run in managing allergic diseases.