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Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots or allergen immunotherapy, is a treatment approach used by allergists to help desensitize the immune system to specific allergens, thereby reducing allergic reactions over time. Here’s what you need to know:

Did you know…

immunotherapy has been used for decades as an effective treatment for allergic conditions such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic asthma, and insect sting allergies. It works by exposing the immune system to gradually increasing doses of allergens, allowing the body to build up tolerance and reduce allergic responses. Immunotherapy can significantly improve allergy symptoms and reduce the need for medications in many patients.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is immunotherapy and how does it work?

Immunotherapy involves administering small, increasing doses of allergens to an allergic individual over a period of time. This exposure helps retrain the immune system, gradually reducing the severity of allergic reactions to the allergen. Immunotherapy can be delivered via injections (allergy shots) or sublingual tablets (under-the-tongue tablets). Allergy shots are typically given in a healthcare setting, while sublingual immunotherapy can be administered at home under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Who is a good candidate for immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy may be recommended for individuals with moderate to severe allergic symptoms that are not well-controlled with medications or allergen avoidance measures. It is often considered for patients with allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, and insect sting allergies. Your allergist will evaluate your medical history, allergy symptoms, and allergy test results to determine if immunotherapy is appropriate for you.

What are the benefits of immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy can provide long-term relief from allergy symptoms and reduce the need for allergy medications. It can also prevent the progression of allergic diseases and reduce the risk of developing new allergies or asthma. Many patients experience significant improvements in their quality of life and are able to enjoy activities that were previously limited by allergies.

What is the duration of immunotherapy treatment?

The duration of immunotherapy treatment varies depending on individual factors such as the specific allergens being treated, the severity of allergies, and the patient’s response to treatment. Immunotherapy typically involves a buildup phase, during which the dose of allergen is gradually increased over several months, followed by a maintenance phase, where the patient receives regular maintenance doses to sustain desensitization. Treatment duration can range from several months to several years.

Is immunotherapy safe?

Immunotherapy is generally safe when administered under the supervision of a trained healthcare provider. However, like any medical treatment, there are potential risks and side effects, including local reactions at the injection site (for allergy shots), systemic reactions (such as itching, hives, or swelling), and rarely, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). Your allergist will monitor you closely during treatment to minimize risks and ensure your safety.

Remember, if you’re considering immunotherapy for allergies, consult with an allergist to discuss whether it’s the right treatment option for you. With proper evaluation and guidance, immunotherapy can be an effective and life-changing treatment for allergic conditions.

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