If you suffer from allergies, there are medications available to help alleviate the problems they cause. However, they’re only treating the symptoms of allergies rather than actually curing the problem.
Allergen immunotherapy is the closest thing we have to a “cure” for allergies, reducing the severity of symptoms and the need for medication for many allergy sufferers. This is particularly helpful for patients who find that allergy medications cause troublesome symptoms such as drowsiness or dry mouth.
In this blog, the sinus specialists at DFW Sinus Select will address the advantages of allergen immunotherapy.
How does allergen immunotherapy work?
Allergen immunotherapy is a form of long-term treatment for decreasing symptoms of many types of allergies. You will be given small, gradually increasing doses of the allergens, which gives your body the chance to adapt to them. This changes the way your immune system reacts to allergens by switching off the allergy. The end result is that you become immune to the allergens, so you can tolerate them with fewer or no symptoms. This treatment can be administered under the tongue or by injections.
What are the advantages of allergen immunotherapy?
The advantages of allergen immunotherapy include:
- Often results in long-lasting relief that continues even after treatment has stopped
- Can decrease the symptoms of many allergies
- Prevents the development of new allergies
- Is cost-effective, since the cost of ongoing allergy medication is eliminated
What does allergen immunotherapy involve?
You can choose to receive treatment in one of two ways — by receiving injections or by taking drops sublingually (underneath your tongue). These treatments involve the following:
- Injections: You’ll be injected with small amounts of an allergen, and your doctor will gradually increase the dose. This is usually done once or twice a week for three to six months. After the effective maintenance dose is reached, you’ll continue to receive injections. The time between treatments will increase as long as your symptoms are being controlled. Eventually, you may no longer need treatment.
- Allergy drops: After your first dose in your doctor’s office, you’ll be able to use sublingual treatment at home if you’d prefer, with just a follow-up visit every few months. Generally you’ll take your drops in the morning on an empty stomach, holding them under your tongue for two minutes before you swallow. This treatment greatly reduces the number of doctor’s visits required, resulting in savings of time and money. It’s also often preferred for young children so they can avoid injections. Most patients who use their drops daily see an improvement in symptoms in three months or less. It usually takes three years to see the full benefit. Allergy drops have no significant side effects. You may feel a very mild itch under your tongue, which typically goes away quickly. The risk of suffering from an allergic reaction after taking allergy drops is significantly less than with allergy shots.
Am I a candidate for allergen immunotherapy?
Patients with allergies may be good candidates for allergen immunotherapy if:
- Your symptoms aren’t being adequately relieved by medication and avoidance measures.
- You require high doses of medication or multiple medications.
- You experience adverse side effects to medications. If you’re taking an antihistamine, for example, you may have symptoms such as drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, or blurred vision.
- You want to avoid long-term use of pharmacological therapy.
- You’re committed to ongoing treatment to achieve relief, after which you may be able to discontinue treatment. Treatment usually starts with a build-up phase of several months and a maintenance phase after the effective dosage is reached.
- You’re in good overall health. Make sure to discuss any medications you take with your doctor, especially cardiac and blood pressure medicines including beta blockers such as propranolol.
How can I get started with allergen immunotherapy in the Dallas/Fort Worth area?
If you’re experiencing allergies, asthma, sinus infections, or nasal obstructions, a consultation with the board-certified ear, nose, and throat specialists at DFW Sinus Select will start the process of achieving more effective relief.
We’ll accurately diagnosis the source of your symptoms and talk to you about the success of any treatments you may have tried. Based on this information, we’ll conduct any necessary testing to help determine if allergen immunotherapy would be an appropriate treatment for you.
To learn more about the advantages of allergen immunotherapy, schedule an appointment or contact us. You’ll be taking the first step toward breathing easier and avoiding the troublesome symptoms of allergies and side effects associated with allergy medications.