Allergy Treatment by Immunotherapy

August 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Allergies

Allergy is, in reality, no disease at all. It is body’s defense mechanism, or immune system, going on overdrive. However, allergy is an irritating condition that requires immediate control, and antihistamines are often used in allergy treatment. Some of the medicines used are Claritin (loratadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine) and decongestant sprays like Nasonex. But these cure only allergy symptoms. To affect a lasting cure, we should aim at preventing allergy by dealing with the body’s immune system.

Allergies can be prevented by allergy immunotherapy. The procedure consists of weekly injections. The medicine that is injected is calculated doses of allergens like pollen extracts, or cat dander extracts. These may sometime be genetically modified to increase the efficacy. Allergy is immune system’s overreaction to a foreign substance. So, the therapy tries to desensitize the immune system by familiarizing it with objects that it perceives as enemies.

This form of allergy treatment has been in use for quite sometime though it has some drawbacks.

The first snag is the slightly prohibitive cost of allergy immunotherapy, since a trained professional is needed to administer it. It is costlier than over the counter medications and even prescription medicines.

Further, this form of allergy treatment is a time-consuming process. Getting the correct dosage of the medicine itself will take time and may require several visits to the doctor. And even after the decision making process is over, the actual allergy treatment would go on for anything from three to five years. The process is aimed at changing the perceptions of the immune system of the patient, and it has to be a gradual process. The duration of the treatment will vary from person to person based on the result.

And allergy immunotherapy is not effective in the case of certain types of allergies like food allergy. The treatment procedure involves inducing allergic reactions by the medicine that is injected. There is an element of risk in it and when it is done to prevent food allergy, the risk of anaphylaxis is stronger. It could easily lead to a dangerously bad situation of allergic reaction.

However, researches conducted on the efficacy of allergy immunotherapy, and the clinical data available on it, paints a satisfactory picture. This form of allergy treatment works well for many people. About 75% of the people who submit themselves to long term allergy immunotherapy have been completely cured of their allergy problems. For the rest of them, even though there was no complete cure, there was conspicuous decrease in allergy symptoms.

Getting shots for allergy is mainly effective for allergy resulting from pollen dust, animal dander, and dust mite waste. Shots also minimize allergic reactions due to stings from a bee or a wasp. It was also found to be effective in controlling hay fever and asthma. Allergy immunotherapy has worked for many who do not respond to other types of allergy treatment like over the counter, or prescription medicine.

For those, who have severe allergy symptoms, and those who are apathetic to being on a daily pill regimen, the existence of allergy immunotherapy is good tidings.