Allergies are described as a hypersensitive immune response by the body to a specific irritant/allergen. Normally people do suffer from allergies with dust, pollen, etc. but occasionally a few people tend to suffer from severe allergies that creates a hindrance in their daily lives and can lead to the development of severe allergic reactions that can prove life threatening if they don’t get immediate treatment from an allergy clinic.
If you’re someone who suffers from severe allergies and are tirelessly looking for a way out, perhaps you should consider the use of allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, for your condition.
Here is everything you should know before starting immunotherapy.
What Is Immunotherapy
Allergy shots are basically composed of the weakened allergen that is subsequently injected into the body to sensitize the host defense mechanism to the inciting agent.
Allergy shots can help your body get used to the allergen without generating an allergic response each time. It isn’t a cure but with repeated shots, your symptoms will definitely improve.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots can be taken up by people who suffer from allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, allergic conjunctivitis and people who are allergic to venom, bee stings etc.
Usually, what doctors recommend is that you should get allergy shots if you experience allergic symptoms greater than 3 months out of the whole year. You are also a likely candidate for the trial if you have suffered from a severe allergic reaction in the past.
Who Shouldn’t Take Allergy Shots?
Allergy shots are clinically prescribed for people who are at least older than 5 years. This is because children smaller than 5 years old are not only at a high risk of therapy failure, it is also difficult to counsel young children regarding the possible side effects of the therapy.
Adults who are pregnant, suffer from cardiac diseases or have severe asthma are generally not the ideal candidates for therapy.
How Do Allergy Shots Work?
Allergy shots work by exposing the body’s immune system to inciting substances. Basically, the person in question is injected with a weakened allergen that sensitizes the body, and in turn reduces the symptoms of a possible allergic reaction.
An allergy shot works pretty much the same way as a vaccine would, thereby increasing immunity by generating new antibodies to fight off the potential allergen.
How Do You Prepare For An Allergy Shot?
An allergist or immunologist usually takes up the evaluation process. Basic testing and evaluation is crucial to narrow down the inciting agent that causes all these systemic effects.
For example, if you suffer from allergies due to pollen, your doctor may perform the skin prick test on your arm or forearm to determine which type of pollen is the real culprit. Usually ragweed, grass and tree pollen are the common culprits.
Procedure For Allergy Shots
The immunotherapy regime can last a couple of years at a bare minimum. There are two phases of the therapy:
Buildup: The buildup phase is where you will be injected with weakened allergens quite frequently, usually greater than 2 times a week. You will be required to sit in the doctor’s room for at least 30 minutes to monitor any kind of allergic reaction you might develop. This phase can last till up to 3-6 months.
Maintenance: This phase consists of shots being administered once or twice a month. You enter the maintenance phase once your doctor is sure that you have grown accustomed to the injections. This phase can last for up to 3-5 years, and it’s important to not skip any dose in between so that the treatment is effective.
Is The Therapy Effective?
In general, immunotherapy is deemed very effective and results in long term control of allergic reactions. It may take up to a year to fully see the results. In some cases, allergy shots can prove non effective. This may be due to a variety of reasons namely non-compliance of the allergy shots, exposure to high amounts of allergens, and inadequate allergen injection in the patient.
If you’re looking for a permanent solution to your allergy problem, visit your allergy specialist Germantown for a possible trial of immunotherapy and reduce your fear of allergy triggers.