Choosing the Right Immunotherapy for You

Choosing the Right Immunotherapy for You

It’s not uncommon for people to discuss their allergies freely. You might hear a co-worker complain that their allergies are acting up, or you might forgo outdoor social activities on high pollen days. Allergies are often the explanation for those who are dealing with itchy eyes, congestion, and sneezing. The reason for such frequent allergy discussion is simple: allergies are widespread and are the 6th leading chronic condition in America.

If you’re one of the many people affected by allergies, Dr. Shailee Madhok and our team at Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center want you to know that you can find relief from your allergies with immunotherapy. 

Here’s what you need to know.

What is immunotherapy? 

Immunotherapy is an allergy treatment that works by giving you small doses of the allergen, i.e., whichever substance is responsible for your symptoms. You receive multiple immunotherapy treatments, and with each consecutive treatment, your immunotherapy dose increases. This is the key to successful immunotherapy treatments: the steadily increasing dosage helps build up your immunity while desensitizing you to your specific allergens.

The two types of immunotherapy are allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy. 

Allergy shots

Allergy shots are an injection-based treatment designed to stop (or reduce) allergy attacks. Allergy shots are given regularly over three to five years. 

Allergy shot treatment timelines can last years because it takes time to carefully and safely desensitize you to your allergens. Each allergy shot injects a small amount of the substance into your body. Even the tiniest amounts of these serums stimulate your immune response, but because we build up your dosage methodically, it’s not enough to automatically trigger allergic reactions. Your body gets used to the substance, much like how vaccines work. However, we do monitor all of our patients after each allergy shot for signs of localized reactions and systemic allergic reactions.

Each treatment plan varies, but the general process is the same. You receive up to three shots each week for up to six months before reaching a maintenance dose. Maintenance doses are administered monthly for three to five years.

Because allergy shots are most effective for treating pollen, pet dander, insect stings, mold, dust mite allergies, you might consider allergy shots if these substances bother you. Allergy shots aren’t yet suitable for treating latex or food allergies.

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)

In addition to allergy shots, we also offer SLIT, which relies on building up your immunity through allergy tablets. Like the shots, the tablets contain a small amount of the allergen. To safely build up your immunity, we increase your dose gradually over time.

SLIT may be right for you if you have a fear of needles. However, allergy tablets provide less coverage than allergy shots. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, allergy tablets for dust mites, grass pollen, and ragweed aren’t available.

How to choose the right immunotherapy for you

Before selecting a type of immunotherapy, Dr. Madhok first identifies which substances are responsible for symptoms via allergy testing. The types of allergies you have play a significant role in the creation of your treatment plan. During your immunotherapy consultation, be prepared to answer questions regarding the severity of your symptoms, your ability to commit to weekly shots, and any other underlying conditions you have that may affect your candidacy for immunotherapy. 

If immunotherapy isn’t right for you 一 such as in the case of food allergies 一 Dr. Madhok provides the appropriate steps for you, including dietary advice or a prescription epinephrine auto-injector. 

Ready to take control of your allergies? Find out if immunotherapy is right for you by calling the location closest to you 一 Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, or Abingdon, Virginia 一 or simply request an appointment online. 

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