Finding the Right Treatment For You
Here in Atlanta, allergy treatment involves a combination of modalities including medication, environmental controls, and Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT). Commonly known as allergy shots, immunotherapy is a program that increases resistance to certain allergens that trigger symptoms. While increasing immunity, it decreases your sensitivity to the substances that trigger those symptoms when exposed. Sublingual drops, commonly referred to as allergy drops, is an individually tailored alternative designed to desensitize you to substances to which you are allergic.
Your allergy test results are used to create a mixture of substances that you’re sensitive to. Sterile extracts are prepared from allergy-producing materials such as pollens, molds, house dust, and animal danders. These biological substances are then taken under the tongue in increasingly stronger doses until your maximum or maintenance dose has been achieved. Allergen immunotherapy involves administering increasing amounts of an allergen to a patient over several months, which has been shown to be effective in preventing the development of new allergies, while in children, preventing the progression of rhinitis to asthma.
Immunotherapy is only recommended for rhinitis, asthma, conjunctivitis, and insect allergy. It is not a recommended ENT treatment for food allergies. The decision to start immunotherapy is one made between patient and doctor; that decision should be based on the length and severity of seasons, how effective medications and environmental controls are, and the desire to avoid long term medication usage.
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Prior Allergy Issues
Much like a vaccine, your body responds to the injected amounts of a particular allergen, given in gradually increasing doses by developing a tolerance to the allergen. As a result of your body’s response to these immune changes, immunotherapy causes decreased, minimal or no allergy response when you are exposed to the allergen included in your allergy vaccine. There are two phases to immunotherapy: a buildup phase and a maintenance phase. The buildup phase of allergy treatment Atlanta involves receiving injections with increasing amounts of the allergens that are customized for each patient based on individual skin testing results. Patients generally receive injections during this phase between one to two times a week, though more rapid buildup schedules may be used. The duration of this phase varies, but, generally, is between three and six months.
Immunotherapy Maintenance Phase
The maintenance phase begins when the effective therapeutic dose is reached, which varies from patient to patient, depending on the level of allergen sensitivity and the response to the immunotherapy buildup phase. Maintenance immunotherapy intervals generally range from two to four weeks. The benefits of immunotherapy, in terms of reduced allergy symptoms, begin during the buildup phase but may take as long as a year on the maintenance dose. Improvement with immunotherapy is expected to be progressive during the ENT treatment period. Effectiveness of immunotherapy seems to be related to the length of allergy treatment and the dose of the allergen.
If immunotherapy is successful, maintenance therapy is generally continued for three to five years. Some patients will experience lasting remission while others may relapse after discontinuing therapy. Allergy immunotherapy is a proven effective treatment for rhinitis, asthma, and insect allergies.