What Is The Treatment For Allergies
The first line of treatment for allergies is to avoid known allergens if possible. When this is not possible, medications used to treat allergies include:
- Nasal corticosteroids for nasal allergies
- Antihistamines to help with sneezing, itching, runny nose, and hives often caused by seasonal and indoor allergies
- Mast cell stabilizers to help with itchy, watery eyes, or an itchy, runny nose;
- Corticosteroid creams or ointments to relieve itching and rash
- Oral corticosteroids to reduce swelling and stop severe allergic reactions;
- Epinephrine is administered during a life-threatening anaphylaxis
Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that is effective for some patients. There are two common types of immunotherapy:
- Allergy shots;
- Involves injections of allergens in an increasing dose over time to desensitize the patient to that allergen
- Allergy shots are often used to treat allergies to pollen, pets, dust, bees or other stinging insects, and asthma
- Allergy shots are not usually effective for allergies to food, medicines, feathers, or for hives or eczema
Immunotherapy Injections Versus Sublingual Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy has been given by injection for more than 100 years and many studies prove that it is effective. A number of studies published in the last five years have shown that very high dose sublingual immunotherapy , where allergen extracts are retained under the tongue for a few minutes, then swallowed, can also be effective. SLIT has a longer history of use in Europe than in Australia and New Zealand, where it is used more commonly than injected immunotherapy.
The allergen extracts currently available in Australia and New Zealand for oral and injected therapy are very potent, and are NOT the extremely weak and ineffective extracts used by some medical practitioners ten or more years ago.
My Allergy Shots Arent Working Why Could That Be
There are a few different reasons why you may not be finding relief from immunotherapy.
The first is time. As stated previously, immunotherapy is a slow process. It can take several months for your symptoms to start disappearing. If youve been receiving consistent shots for a year and havent noticed any changes, talk to your immunologist about next steps.
Alternatively, you may be allergic to something that wasnt identified in your allergy test and isnt included in your treatment formula. Your immunologist may have you retested or administer a different kind of test.
Lastly, you might not be receiving a high enough dose. Shot schedules start with very small amounts which are slowly increased over time. Its possible you may need a higher dose or need to receive injections more often. Your doctor can advise you on your options.
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Treating Severe Allergic Reactions
Some people with severe allergies may experience life-threatening reactions,;known as;anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.
If you’re at risk of this, you’ll be given special injectors containing a medicine called adrenaline to use in an emergency.
If you develop symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as difficulty breathing, you should inject yourself in the outer thigh before seeking emergency medical help.
How Often Do You Get Allergy Shots
At first, youâll go to your doctor once or twice a week for several months. Youâll get the shot in your upper arm. It’ll contain a tiny amount of the thing youâre allergic to — pollen, pet dander, mold, dust mites, or bee venom, for example.
The dose will go up gradually until you get to whatâs called a maintenance dose. After that, youâll usually get a shot every 2-4 weeks for 4-5 months. Then your doctor will gradually increase the time between shots until youâre getting them about once a month for 3-5 years. During that time, your allergy symptoms will get better and may even go away.
If your symptoms donât improve after a year of shots, talk with your doctor about other treatment options.
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Myth: Allergy Shots Are Only For Severe Allergies
First lets debunk who allergy shots are for. Its a common myth that immunotherapy is only available to patients with severe allergies. Allergy shots are used to treat respiratory allergies to things such as pollen, grass, and trees as well as insect allergies. You dont need to have severe respiratory allergies to be a good candidate for allergy shots.
Very Rare: Anaphylactic Reaction
In very rare cases, immunotherapy can cause an extreme allergic reaction known as an anaphylactic reaction. This can lead to problems like severe itching, nausea, breathing difficulties, circulation problems, and may even result in anaphylactic shock. These symptoms require immediate medical attention. An adrenaline injection is usually given in order to quickly limit the dangerous overreaction occurring in the body.
Anaphylactic reactions are very rare in people who are otherwise healthy. In studies, fewer than 1 out of 1,000 people who were given immunotherapy injections had a reaction that needed to be treated with adrenaline. Because of this small risk, though, precautionary measures are taken: Every time you’re given an allergen extract, you must stay in the doctors office for at least 30 minutes afterwards. Your doctor should also describe the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction to you, and make sure your family is informed too. If you then start showing signs later on, you can seek medical help immediately.
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How Immunotherapy Works
Allergy shots, or desensitization injections, work much like vaccinations. Each shot contains a small amount of the allergen that triggers your reaction just enough to stimulate your immune system, but not enough to prompt a major reaction.
The buildup phase typically lasts 3-6 months. During this time, you receive injections in your upper arm 1-3 times per week. At each appointment, we increase your allergen dose slightly. This approach slowly ramps up your bodys tolerance as safely and efficiently as possible.;;
As you enter the maintenance phase, you receive an allergy shot once a month to help your body maintain its newfound tolerance. This ongoing treatment period typically lasts 3-5 years, depending on your needs.
We also offer rush immunotherapy, which involves a series of allergy shots delivered during one day. This immunotherapy approach works to accelerate the buildup of your immunity faster, providing faster relief from your symptoms in a shorter period of time.;;
What Are Allergy Shots
When you get immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots, your allergist or doctor injects small doses of substances that you are allergic to under your skin. Over time, this decreases your reaction to the allergen and may reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Allergy shots are available for allergies to:
- Pollen .
- Animal dander .
- Mould .
Sublingual immunotherapy may be another way to treat certain pollen allergies. Instead of getting shots, you dissolve a tablet under your tongue daily. Each tablet has a small amount of allergen in it. This treatment, like allergy shots, helps your body “get used to” the allergen, so your body reacts less to it over time. Talk to your doctor if you have a pollen allergy and you want to know more about this treatment.
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Disadvantages Of Allergy Immunotherapy
As with all types of medical procedures and treatments, allergy desensitization has some drawbacks. Following are some of the more common disadvantages of allergy shots:
- Immunotherapy does not work on every type of allergy. It is true that shots work well for common allergies such as pet dander, pollen, dust, and other pollutants found in the home. Shots are ineffective for treating food allergies and urticaria. Urticaria causes chronic hives related to an underlying disease such as hyperthyroidism or lupus. In addition, insect venom allergies such as bee stings or spider bites cannot be prevented by allergy shots.
- Some patients have a reaction that shows up as redness, swelling, and tenderness at the injection site. However, injection site reactions usually last just one day.
- Occasionally, certain patients balk at the time commitment needed for successful allergy prevention. Missing appointments can delay or derail relief from allergies.
- Allergy shots can worsen allergy symptoms at first when the injection regimen starts.
- Since allergy shots rarely cause anaphylaxis, patients must wait in their physicians office for 30 minutes until the danger of anaphylaxis passes.
The Results For Me Have Been Truly Amazing
I think that I was pretty close to the worst case scenario, but I would, and have, strongly recommended Colorado Allergy and Asthma to others who suffer from Allergies. The results for me have been truly amazing. Its hard to envision life without the misery of allergy symptoms until they are gone. I feel like a completely different person. Ted G.
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Cytopoint Allergy Shot Vs Immunotherapy For Dogs
Immunotherapy should not be confused with cytopoint allergy shots, which are intended for short-term relief rather than as a permanent solution.
This is an anti-itch injection given at the veterinary practice that lasts four to eight weeks, Dr. Harbour said. This is a monoclonal antibody that targets the itch mediator and prevents the signal of itch from going to the brain.
So instead of training the immune system to reduce reactions for good like with immunotherapy cytopoint basically just tricks your dogs brain by making her think shes not itchy.
Myth: Allergy Shots Are Too Time
While allergy shots do require most patients to come in for their shot every week for the first six months, treatment then becomes monthly for about three years. The procedure is straightforward and provides a long-term solution. Immunotherapy is the only treatment that retrains the immune system to cure your allergy.
Adults and children who choose allergy shots reap the benefits with an improved quality of life and reduced health care costs.;
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What To Expect From Allergy Shots For Asthma
Before you get allergy shots for asthma, your doctor will want to do allergy testing. This is a way of finding out which allergens affect you. It will probably involve skin testing, in which a small amount of the allergen is scraped onto or injected under your skin. Allergy shots aren’t available for every kind of allergy.
Allergy shots for asthma include shots for:
- Dust mites
Once you and your doctor have discovered which allergens affect you, the next step is to get the shots. The frequency of the injections varies, but you might get them once or twice a week for the first three to six months — or until you reach the maximum dose. After that, you might only need maintenance injections every two to four weeks. This might continue for three to five years. Although some people feel asthma symptom relief from their allergy injections quickly, it may take up to a year for others. In some people, allergy shots have no effect.
Is Immunotherapy Right For You 5 Reasons To Consider Treatment
For decades, allergen immunotherapy has brought relief to many environmental allergy sufferers. This treatment has successfully helped those who are affected by allergies triggered by allergens such as pollens, molds, dust, and dander. Our experts at Asthma Allergy Center in Tigard, OR are committed to providing the best cutting-edge treatments for our patients, including immunotherapy.
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Can Allergy Shots Help Kids
Yes! Allergy shots can be started at any age. The age in which shots may be recommended for;young children is done on a case-by-case basis.
Research has also shown that allergy shots can prevent children who have allergic rhinitis from getting asthma. Treating the underlying cause of allergies in children can help prevent other sinus problems, improve quality of life, and help prevent your child from missing school due to allergy and asthma symptoms.
Other Steps You Can Take
Theres not much you can do to protect yourself from allergies when you are outside, but you should strive to make your home as allergy-free as possible. Combining a variety of different allergen-reducing techniques can make you more comfortable.
These techniques include:
- Cut down on pet dander. Consider a hypoallergenic dog or give your dog or cat weekly baths to reduce dander accumulation. If your pet has long hair, consider getting them shaved. Keep your dog or cat out of your bedroom.
- Eradicate dust mites. Keep your home clean and uncluttered, get rid of wall-to-wall carpeting, and put protective covers on furniture cushions to keep your home free of dust mites.
- Vacuum. Vacuuming twice per week with a vacuum containing a HEPA filter reduces airborne allergens.
- Dehumidify. Mold thrives in moist, warm environments. Air out your bathroom after showers or run a dehumidifier to suck moisture from the air.
- Get rid of houseplants. House plants make a great home for dust mites and mold spores. Reduce your number of house plants and get rid of dried flowers.
- Control cockroaches. Cockroaches are common in urban areas and in the southern United States. Set traps and avoid leaving out food.
Its not always possible to prevent allergy symptoms. Often, you can only treat symptoms as they arise. There are many prescription and over-the-counter options available, including:
- antihistamine or corticosteroid eye drops
- oral decongestants
- corticosteroid asthma inhalers
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How Long Do They Take To Work
It varies from patient to patient. Some find relief from symptoms in just a few months during the build-up phase. Others require a full year of consistent treatment to see significant improvement.
You should talk to your doctor if youre concerned that your symptoms arent going away. Adjusting your shot schedule or slightly reformulating your medicine may help.
What Are The Side Effects Of Allergy Shots
The side effects of allergy shots are usually minimal. Most commonly, patients will feel slight itching or swelling at the site of the injection. Other people may experience more severe allergy symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, and hives. While rare, a person can have a serious reaction, like anaphylaxis, typically within 30 minutes after the shot is given. Therefore, waiting at an allergy office is required after an allergy shot is given. It is important for trained allergy staff to monitor patients after their allergy shots to ensure no reaction occurs.
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Allergy Shots Treat Many Kinds Of Allergies
Allergy shots are great for treating indoor and outdoor allergies caused by environmental irritants, like pollen and dust.
If you feel like you cant escape allergens no matter how much you clean or how many decongestants you take, shots may provide long-term relief.
Shots can treat symptoms caused by these common allergens:
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
- Certain stinging insects such as bees, wasps, yellow jackets, fire ants
Note:Food allergies cannot be treated with shots. Talk with your healthcare provider about other options for treating food allergies.
Youll Have To Stick To A Schedule
For treatment to be most effective, youll need to create an allergy shot plan that involves multiple doses over a period of time.
Exactly how many doses youll need and for how long will depend on your individual situation. Dr. Reichmuth, one of the expert immunologists at Florida Medical Clinic, says your doctor will work with you to create a schedule best suited for your symptoms.
Schedules are split into two phases: the build-up phase and the maintenance phase.
During the buildup phase, allergy injections are given more frequently, typically 1-2 times a week for 4-8 months. During maintenance phase, the injections become less frequent according to the plan you create with your immunologist.
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Alternatives To Allergy Shots
The FDA has recently approved oral immunotherapy tablets for sale within the US. There are now three allergy tablets approved by the FDA:Oralair Grastek Ragwitek
These are all fast-dissolving tablets that are placed under the tongue and contain specific pollen extracts.; They are meant to be taken at least 12 weeks prior to the start of the grass or ragweed season.
The concept is the same as allergy shots; build up your;tolerance to bothersome allergens through consistent exposure.;Family Allergy & Asthmas Research Institute participated in the clinical trials of the grass tablets. In general, they are less effective than allergy shots. Allergy shots have an effectiveness of over 80%. Allergy tablets are in the range of 40-60% effective.; Tablets are generally not the best option for patients who are allergic to multiple things, though may be a good option for someone allergic only to grass or ragweed.
Additional Information on the Tablets:
-Allergy tablets require a prescription, and it is required that a patient is;allergy tested prior to being prescribed the tablet.
-The cost of the tablets will vary based on your insurance. At this time, we expect the cost to be comparable to allergy shots for most patients.
Who Is A Good Candidate For Rush Immunotherapy
I do caution my patients that the risk of having an allergic reaction to an allergy shot is a little higher during the rush protocol. However, because we keep you here for observation after each injection, were able to provide quick treatment. And even if you have a reaction on the first day, we still can shave months off the process even if we cant complete the full rush protocol.
I might not recommend rush immunotherapy for very young children. Thats mainly because shots can be scary for kids. Having to get many shots on the first day could be traumatizing for them and make it harder for them to deal with needles later. Thats something parents can talk over with their childs allergist.
Its important to see a board-certified allergist like me whenever youre considering options for allergy treatment. Although rush immunotherapy was first developed in the mid-1990s, its not widely known among doctors who dont focus strictly on allergy care.
For most patients, rush immunotherapy is a great alternative to traditional allergy shots. It can help you feel better faster and save time in the process. Request an appointment with one of our allergists to find out if rush is a good option for you.
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