Allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system to a substance known as an allergen. Allergens are substances to which particular individuals have extreme sensitivity. When a person is exposed to an allergen, the body releases chemicals including histamine, which produce the allergic reaction.
Immunotherapy is the administration of small doses of the allergen causing the problem which are gradually increased to help the patient develop increased tolerance. Immunotherapy works to bolster the immune system without triggering an allergic reaction. Some of the most common allergens are pollen, dust mites, mold and animal dander.
Candidates For Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy is a good option for patients who have persistent allergies for more than three months of the year, do not respond well to allergy medications, or are in danger because of their allergy. Immunotherapy can relieve allergy symptoms and help reduce the frequency of reactions.
The Immunotherapy Procedure
A course of immunotherapy typically begins with the injection of minute quantities of the allergen injected into the patient’s arm once a week. Gradually, these doses are increased. In a few months, the patient is usually receiving the optimal amount of allergen in the injection, enough to demonstrate sufficient tolerance to allow the patient limited exposure to the allergen without developing symptoms. This is referred to as a maintenance dose.
Patients may be kept on a maintenance dose once a month for up to 5 years to help them retain at least partial immunity to the irritating allergens.
Recently, Tower Allergy initiated oral immunotherapy where you put a drop of a concentrate of what you are allergic to in the environment under the tongue once a day. This way you are trying to treat the underlying condition, not just masking the symptoms with drugs. The advantage of this over injection immunotherapy is that it can be administered at home.