Allergy is characterised by an overreaction of the human immune system to a foreign protein substance (“allergen”) that is eaten, breathed into the lungs, injected or touched. This immune overreaction can results in symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat. In severe cases it can also result in rashes, hives, lower blood pressure, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, and even death.
WHAT IS IMMUNOTHERAPY?
Allergy Immunotherapy is a clinically documented treatment that considerably reduces, or completely removes your allergy symptoms and the need for traditional, symptom relieving medication. Until your immune system has had time to adjust, you may still need the medication you are already using. After three to six months, your need for drugs may decrease and your symptoms may become less severe. An additional effect of immunotherapy is that it may prevent the onset of other allergies and the development of asthma. Studies have shown that children who were at an increased risk of developing asthma were able to resist the onset of asthma and see their existing symptoms decrease after completing treatment.
ALLERGY SKIN TEST
A skin test involves a gentle prick with a drop of allergen extract on the surface of your arm. This method may result in mild swelling and a reddening of the skin, which tells the doctor that you have an allergy. For most patients, this method requires about 30 minutes and is not painful.
HOW DOES IMMUNOTHERAPY WORK?
During the treatment, the immune system is gradually desensitized through injections of small doses of specific allergenic proteins extracted from natural allergen sources: pollens (grass, trees, etc.), house dust mites, animals, insects and more. You eventually grow accustomed to the allergens that normally caused an allergic reaction.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
CAN ALLERGIES DEVELOP INTO ASTHMA?
Yes. Studies have shown that children who suffer from hay fever and/or eczema are more likely to develop asthma. Allergic rhinitis, eczema and asthma are part of the same condition that can co-exist in up to 80% of patients. This means that by treating the cause of your allergies, you may prevent the progression of allergies and reduce the risk of asthma attacks.
WHAT CAUSES ALLERGIES?
An allergy is caused by an oversensitive immune system, which leads to a misdirected immune response. The immune system normally protects the body against harmful substances, such as bacteria and viruses. When an allergic reaction occurs, it is a result of the immune system reacting to substances (allergens) that are generally harmless and in most people do not cause an immune response. In a person with allergies, the first exposure to the allergen triggers the immune system to recognize the substance. Any exposure after that will usually result in symptoms. When an allergen enters the body of a person with a sensitized immune system, histamine and other chemicals are released by certain cells. This causes itching, swelling, mucus production, muscle spasms, hives, rashes, and other symptoms. These can vary in severity from person to person. Most people have symptoms that cause discomfort without being life-threatening. A few people have life-threatening reactions (called anaphylaxis).
WHAT ARE ALLERGIES?
Allergies are reactions caused by the immune system as it responds to environmental substances that are usually harmless to most people. They may occur in response to a range of different material (called allergens), such as food, pollen, dust mites, animals, insect stings, or medicines.
WHAT ARE ALLERGY SHOTS?
Allergy shots are the most effective and only way to permanently treat allergies. Allergy shots have been used and tested by doctors for many decades. They are considered safe and have no record of any long-term negative side effects. Studies show that allergy shots can also prevent people from developing new allergies, and reduce the risk of developing asthma in children with nasal allergies. Allergy shots are also natural. Allergy shots use only the proteins that trigger allergies as a way to permanently de-sensitize the body’s reaction to nature.
WHAT IS SUBCUTANEOUS IMMUNOTHERPY?
Allergy shots are referred to as “immunotherapy,” and are given to increase your tolerance to the substances (allergens) that provoke allergy symptoms. They are administered with a very small needle just under the skin. This method is referred to as “subcutaneous”. These shots are not painful and use the same kind of needle that diabetics use to self-administer insulin multiple times a day.
ARE ALLERGY SHOTS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Allergy shots are most commonly recommended to people who suffer from allergies, who find little or no relief through traditional medications. People who have allergy symptoms more than one season, or all season long each year, people who cannot avoid contact with allergens due to work environment or a favorite family pet, and those who suffer from allergy induced sinusitis are excellent candidates for immunotherapy.
HOW SHOULD I PREPARE FOR ALLERGY SHOTS?
For two hours before and after your injection, do not exercise or engage in vigorous activity. Exercise may stimulate increased blood flow to the tissues and promote faster release of antigens into the bloodstream. Tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking. Some medications, such as beta blockers, can interfere with the treatment and/or increase the risk of side effects. Talk to your doctor about the safety of continuing the allergy shots if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AFTER ALLERGY SHOTS?
Redness, swelling, or irritation within one inch of the site of the injection is normal. These symptoms should go away within 4 to 8 hours after receiving the shot. You will be monitored for about 30 minutes in the physician’s office after receiving an allergy shot to make sure that you don’t develop side effects. If you have side effects such as itchy eyes or runny nose, set up an appointment to meet with the allergy tech. Your dosage may need to be changed. If you begin to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath or tight throat after you leave the doctor’s office, or right after self-injection, use the EpiPen and dial 911.