Seasonal and year-round allergies can interfere with your quality of life and enjoyment of the outdoors. The first line of defense for allergies is to avoid the allergen. But for those who are allergic to pollen, trees, grass, dust mites, mold spores, and bee venom, that means avoiding the outdoors for a good part of the year.
The second line of defense is allergy medicine. But if you don’t respond to allergy medications, experience side effects from these medicines, or don’t want to take medications all the time, immunotherapy can help you find long-term relief from your allergy symptoms, and the freedom to do what you want when you want.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy, also known as allergen immunotherapy, is a treatment for allergies that involves injecting or introducing small amounts of the substance you’re allergic to into your system so that your immune system learns how to respond to that allergen. Because the amount of the allergen is so small, you don’t develop a full-blown allergy attack.
Immunotherapy is also referred to as allergy shots, but with advances in treatment, there are other methods to deliver the allergen than an injection, such as sublingual tablets. But not everyone is a candidate for sublingual tablets. Your doctor can let you know if you are eligible for this injection-free therapy.
Over time, your body builds up immunity to the allergen and reduces the adverse effects of being exposed to that allergen. The treatment diminishes your symptoms and strengthens your immune system at the same time.
What to expect during immunotherapy treatments
The first step to receiving immunotherapy treatments is to pinpoint what you’re allergic to so that we can slowly introduce the right allergen to your system. Here at AIR Care, Dr. Richard Herrscher first reviews your medical history and symptoms and then uses skin-prick testing, skin-patch testing, or blood testing to determine your specific allergens.
Once he learns what your allergen or allergens are, Dr Herrscher prescribes either allergy shots or sublingual allergy tablets, which you dissolve under your tongue up to twice a week for about six months. This first six months are referred to as the buildup phase, where your body slowly gets used to the allergen and starts to build up a resistance to it.
The next step in immunotherapy treatments is the maintenance phase. During the maintenance phase, you receive a shot or tablet once or twice a month for three to five years.
Immunotherapy is an effective and long-term treatment for those with allergies. But don’t skip any of your appointments. Your allergies don’t disappear entirely right away, so you need to keep up with the shots to allow your immune system to stay focused on building up a resistance to your allergens. Over the course of the treatment, you experience fewer and fewer symptoms.
For more information on how immunotherapy treatments can help you find relief from your allergies, call allergist and immunotherapy specialist Dr. Richard Herrscher at AIR Care with offices in Dallas and Plano, Texas, or make an appointment online.