For many periodic allergy sufferers, medication adequately controls symptoms, including itching, sneezing, and watery eyes. But many others don’t enjoy sufficient relieve and are forced to spend entire seasons hiding from pollen or enduring year-round discomfort that puts a major damper on daily activities. If you are among this group, immunotherapy could be a true game-changer. This treatment is highly-effective and addresses your allergies at their root. The process entails exposing you to tiny amounts of your allergy triggers so you build up immunities.
Researchers continue to work on improving immunotherapy, including delivering it orally rather than by injections, but for more than a century, this treatment has successfully helped desensitize patients to allergens, such as ragweed pollen, bee venom, dust mites, and pet dander.
Results don’t occur overnight. It takes time to reap the benefits and immunotherapy must be supervised by an experienced physician, as mistakes can be fatal. However, for many, immunotherapy effectively puts allergies in remission long-term.
The experienced team at Midwest Allergy Sinus Asthma (MASA) with locations in Springfield and Normal, IL often recommends patients try immunotherapy for persistent symptoms that haven’t responded sufficiently to traditional allergy medications.
Immunotherapy tackles allergies at their root
You may blame pollen, pet dander, and other allergens for your symptoms—but they’re only part of the issue. These substances may trigger your discomfort, but the underlying problem is with your immune system that creates the resulting chaos.
True, bee stings deliver venom designed to protect the hive and pollens can be irritating to your respiratory system. However, normally you’d have a local reaction to a sting, which might include a painful red bump, or experience a healthy sneeze to clear out the pollen in your nose.
But if you are allergic to bees, when stung your immune system goes into overdrive and sends out a system-wide cry for help. This overreaction causes the itching, sneezing, nasal drainage, hives, and even swelling and breathing difficulties that may signal anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening allergic reaction.
At MASA, our priority is to treat the whole patient, which includes relieving your symptoms as well as addressing the underlying cause of your difficulty. Immunotherapy fulfills that role by getting to the root of the issue as it slowly desensitizes, or essentially vaccinates your immune system against specific allergens it considers highly toxic.
The benefits of immunotherapy can be well worth your time
Immunotherapy starts with a build-up phase that requires 1-2 visits to the office every week for 3-6 months. During this stage, you receive increasingly higher doses of the allergen(s) causing your issues until you reach a predetermined target level.
Once you’ve reached the target, we start the maintenance phase. This entails a treatment every 2-4 weeks for 3-5 years.
Immunotherapy may seem like an overwhelming time commitment, but it can lead to lasting remission of your allergy symptoms and may even prevent you from developing asthma or new allergies.
Immunotherapy is also cost-effective when compared to long-term use of allergy medications that only offer temporary relief of symptoms.
The treatment, however, only works if you are faithful to the protocol. A few weeks, or even months, of immunotherapy won’t help with your allergies, and it won’t be effective if you skip injections here and there during the course.
Immunotherapy is an individualized treatment
This treatment is highly-customized, as well. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. We take significant time to evaluate your symptoms, test for specific allergens and design a treatment protocol that’s tailored to fit your needs. This patient-centric strategy greatly increases the potential effectiveness of immunotherapy.
If your allergy symptoms aren’t well controlled with your current treatment regimen or you’d like a chance to someday stop allergy medications altogether, schedule an appointment at MASA today to discuss whether immunotherapy is right for you.