Does Allergy Immunotherapy Actually Work for Allergies?

Does Allergy Immunotherapy Actually Work for Allergies?
Written by Vertical Wise

Allergies are no fun. They impact millions of Americans and millions worldwide, causing various pesky symptoms that cause discomfort and get in the way. If you’re one of the many who suffers from an allergy, whether it’s seasonal, food-related, or something else, you may have heard of allergy immunotherapy.

This powerful treatment is unlike traditional allergy treatments, such as decongestants, antihistamines, and corticosteroids. Unlike those treatments, it focuses on the allergy, not the symptoms. But does it work for allergies? In this blog, we’ll explore allergies, allergy immunotherapy, and whether this treatment works. 

A Basic Overview of Allergies: In a Nutshell

Before we dive headfirst into the fascinating science behind allergy immunotherapy, we need to start with a foundational understanding of allergies. In simple terms, an allergy is your body’s reaction to a foreign substance. 

This foreign substance, called an allergen, can take many forms, from bee venom and pollen to cat and dog dander. The allergen is rarely harmful, but your immune system isn’t able to recognize it as harmless. 

So, when your body encounters that particular allergen, it kickstarts a reaction to protect you. Your antibodies, blood proteins that counteract a specific antigen, spring into action, communicating with cells that release specific chemicals. 

When these chemicals are released inside your body, they tell your immune system to trigger the symptoms we know as allergies. These symptoms can range in severity from an itchy nose to difficulty breathing. Sometimes, the reaction can even progress to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention.  

What is Allergy Immunotherapy?

Allergy immunotherapy (AIT) is a treatment that helps desensitize your body to an allergen, such as bee venom or northern pasture grasses. There are two categories of allergy immunotherapy: sublingual and subcutaneous. 

The first, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), is administered under the tongue via tablets or drops. This option is popular for children, as it doesn’t involve frequent doctor visits or injections. 

The second, subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), is administered under the skin via an injection. It’s commonly known as allergy shots and is the most popular type of AIT. 

How AIT Works

Allergy immunotherapy helps achieve an allergen-specific tolerance by repeatedly exposing your body to that allergen. The shots, drops, or tablets contain small, incrementally increasing doses of the allergen. 

The repeated exposure helps reduce the production of the “blocking” antibodies that cause the reaction, slowly desensitizing your body to the allergen. Over time, you may find that you can be exposed to that allergen with little to no reaction. 

Of course, everyone is different, so the results may look different for each person. Most people begin to notice those results within a few months to a year of starting the treatment, but the best results usually appear in years two and three. 

Is Allergy Immunotherapy Effective in Treating Allergies?

Allergy immunotherapy is highly effective in treating various types of allergies. The treatment has been around for over a century, and in that time, researchers have conducted countless trials and studies that demonstrate its remarkable efficacy. 

For example, one European study compared AIT-treated individuals to a control group, examining AIT, allergic rhinitis, and asthma prescriptions. It found that the AIT-treated group had significantly lower allergic rhinitis and asthma prescriptions than the control group. Furthermore, it found that the AIT-treated group had a higher chance of stepping down asthma treatment than the control group. 

Another study evaluated AIT’s long-term effects on allergic rhinitis, finding that both sublingual and subcutaneous immunotherapy are effective in treating it. AIT offered clinical benefits and immunological changes consistent with an allergen-specific tolerance. 

An assortment of research and clinical trials examined the efficacy of repeated subcutaneous injections for achieving an allergen-specific tolerance. They found that AIT is highly effective in achieving such a result that persists even beyond discontinuation of the treatment. 

These are just a few of the many studies and trials published online and in various books. The research is plentiful, so if you want to learn more about AIT, you’ll have no shortage of material. 

Wrapping Up

Allergy immunotherapy offers promising results for those who commit the time to embark on an AIT journey. Whether you’re suffering from an allergy to pet dander or a pollen allergy, AIT can be a powerful tool in combatting those pesky symptoms and giving you the freedom to enjoy experiences you previously couldn’t. 

Of course, like any healthcare decision, it’s important to talk to your doctor first. They’ll consider your medical history and current allergies to help you determine if AIT is right for you. 

Have you considered allergy immunotherapy? Share your questions and experiences in the comments below!

About the author

Vertical Wise

Vertical Wise is an international website dedicated to supporting and promoting the world of pole dancing and aerial fitness. Our mission is to spread awareness, share knowledge, and celebrate the incredible artistry and athleticism of these disciplines. Join us as we connect enthusiasts, athletes, and professionals from around the globe, fostering a vibrant community that inspires and empowers individuals to reach new heights in their fitness journey.

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