Using Immunotherapy to Help Treat Allergies

Immunotherapy Treatments

It is possible to train the body to become less reactive to certain allergens. An allergy doctor, like an allergist in Chantilly, VA from Black & Kletz Allergy, may recommend trying immunotherapy as a preventative treatment option. Immunotherapy can be helpful for patients whose body overreacts to specific allergens, such as grass, pollen, dust mites, or bee venom. Through slow, incremental doses of the allergen, the immune system may adjust and no longer identify the allergen as a threat to the body. Immunotherapy may be used for patients who are sensitive to one or a select group of allergens.

Allergies Defined

The human body can be incredible at warding off invaders that could be harmful, such as bacteria or viruses. But, there may be times when these defenses are too strong and what is viewed as a threat is actually totally harmless, such as dust, pollen, or food items. In response to an allergen, the immune system may emit chemicals throughout the body in hopes of defeating the supposed enemy. This automatic reaction can be unpleasant, disruptive, and even life-threatening.

Allergies can impact any person, no matter the race, gender, age, or socioeconomic status. Allergies can be more prevalent for children, but they can develop for the very first time for any person regardless of age. For some, allergies begin in childhood. Then for others, allergies disappear only to eventually come back again later in life.

Allergy Medication 

Patients who feel like they just can’t avoid allergens may take medication to help control symptoms. The most frequently used over-the-counter allergy medications include antihistamines and decongestants, which assist in alleviating congestion, sneezing, and itchiness. Corticosteroids can be effective in reducing inflammation of the nasal cavity. Please note, that some medications can have side effects, particularly drowsiness or disrupted sleep. An allergy doctor can work with you to determine which types of allergy medication can be the most efficient while minimizing potential side effects.

SCIT and SLIT Immunotherapy

There are two immunotherapy options that an allergy doctor may recommend for a patient struggling with allergies. Firstly, the most commonly used form of immunotherapy is subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), or more simply referred to as “allergy shots”. This is the only form of treatment that can change the way the immune system works, helping to prevent new allergies from developing.

Secondly, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a newer type of immunotherapy and entails administering either tablets or drops underneath the tongue (instead of injecting the allergen under the skin). Research is continuing to be performed for various SLIT allergens, but currently, the FDA has only approved grass pollen, dust mite, and ragweed. SLIT treatments are limited to one allergen, while SCIT can offer relief for multiple allergens.

Patients who need help resolving tricky allergies can talk with an allergy doctor for more information about immunotherapy treatment. Allergies can be fleeting or chronic, and difficult to narrow down what is triggering a body response. Please call us before you have to endure yet another day of problematic allergies.

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