If you suffer from allergies, you know how miserable they can make you feel. Sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and congestion are just some of the symptoms that can make it difficult to enjoy everyday activities. While there are several medications available to help alleviate allergy symptoms, some people may benefit from allergy immunotherapy. But how does allergy immunotherapy work, and can it really help reduce allergy symptoms? Let’s take a closer look.
Allergy immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a treatment that involves regular injections of allergens over a period of time. The goal of allergy shots is to help your immune system become less sensitive to the allergen, thereby reducing allergy symptoms.
During allergy immunotherapy, a doctor or allergist will first identify the specific allergens that trigger your symptoms. Then, a customized treatment plan is developed based on the specific allergens that affect you. Allergy shots typically start with a low dose of the allergen and gradually increase over time.
The way allergy shots work is by exposing your immune system to the allergen in a controlled and increasing amount. Over time, your immune system will develop a tolerance to the allergen and produce fewer antibodies that cause allergy symptoms. This process is called desensitization.
Allergy shots are typically given once or twice a week during the build-up phase, which can last anywhere from three to six months. Once the maximum dose is reached, the maintenance phase begins, and allergy shots are given less frequently, usually every two to four weeks. The maintenance phase can last anywhere from three to five years, depending on the individual.
It’s important to note that allergy immunotherapy is not a quick fix for allergy symptoms. It can take several months to see an improvement in symptoms, and the full benefit of the treatment may not be apparent until several years after starting allergy shots. However, many people who undergo allergy immunotherapy report a significant reduction in allergy symptoms and an improvement in their quality of life.
Allergy immunotherapy is generally safe, but there is a risk of allergic reactions to the shots. For this reason, allergy shots are given under the supervision of a doctor or allergist who is trained to recognize and treat allergic reactions.
If you think you or your child could benefit from immunotherapy, then its time to talk to your doctor and take the next steps. In some people getting rid of their allergies can truly be life changing.