December 15, 2022

Allergy Immunotherapy: What is it & How Does it Help With Allergies?

If you’re among the millions of Americans with allergies, you may feel like you’ve tried everything to find relief. However, there have been developments in allergy immunotherapy that might work for you.

There are many types of immunotherapy. Allergy shots, drops, and tablets can all be considered immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a beneficial treatment for allergies because it can help reduce your symptoms by “teaching” your immune system to better tolerate the things you’re allergic to.

It’s not a quick fix, but immunotherapy can be a long-term solution for people who are looking for an alternative to traditional allergy treatments like antihistamines, decongestants, and avoidance.

Here’s what you need to know about immunotherapy and how it can help with allergies.

What is the Immune System?

The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection. The immune system is made up of two main parts: the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system.

The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defense against infection. It includes the skin, mucous membranes, stomach acid, and saliva. These barriers keep most harmful bacteria and viruses from entering the body.

If bacteria or viruses do manage to get past the innate immune system, the adaptive immune system kicks in. The adaptive immune system is made up of white blood cells, which destroy invading bacteria and viruses. The adaptive immune system also produces antibodies, which are proteins that attach to bacteria and viruses and help to destroy them.

The immune system is a complex and amazing system that protects us from disease. However, sometimes the immune system can go too far and start attacking healthy cells in the body. This can lead to allergies, autoimmune diseases, and other conditions.

How Allergies Work

An allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a substance that is usually harmless. When a person with an allergy comes into contact with the allergen, their immune system overreacts and produces antibodies called IgE. These antibodies cause the release of chemicals, such as histamine, which leads to the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. Mild reactions may cause a runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. Severe reactions can cause difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, and a drop in blood pressure. In some cases, an allergic reaction can be life-threatening.

There are many different types of allergies, including food allergies, pet allergies, and environmental allergies. Insect stings, medications, and latex can also cause allergies.

What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight disease. 

There are two main types of immunotherapy: active and passive. Active immunotherapy stimulates the immune system to produce more antibodies or white blood cells. Passive immunotherapy involves injecting pre-made antibodies or white blood cells into the body.

Used when the body needs to destroy foreign cells. This can sometimes be used in cancer treatments when the body needs to destroy cancer cells. 

Active immunotherapy is often used when the body needs to destroy foreign cells. This can sometimes be used in cancer treatments when the body needs to destroy cancer cells.  Passive immunotherapy is often used to treat allergies because it can help reduce allergic reaction symptoms by introducing the allergen in tiny amounts allowing the body to be desensitized to the allergen.

How Does Immunotherapy Work?

Immunotherapy aims to change how the body’s immune system reacts to a particular allergen. Immunotherapy can be delivered in different ways, one of the more known immunotherapy treatments is allergy shots.

With allergy shots, a person is first given a very small amount of the allergen they are allergic to. This is called the “build-up” phase. The amount of allergen is then gradually increased over time. This is called the “maintenance” phase.

Other types of immunotherapy include sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) and oral immunotherapy (OIT). With SLIT, a person places a drop of allergen extract under their tongue. With OIT, a person eats a very small amount of allergen.

Sublingual immunotherapy and oral immunotherapy has shown to be similarly effective to allergy shots. The idea is that instead of injecting the allergen, a person is exposed under-the-tongue, or through tablets.

The idea is that, over time, the person’s immune system will become less sensitive to the allergen, and they will have fewer and less severe allergy symptoms.

The best immunotherapy is patient dependent. Some patients might prefer drops or tablets to shots. With all immunotherapy treatments, treatment must be strictly adhered to. Most patients of immunotherapy do not see the results they want because they fall off treatment.

What are the Benefits of Immunotherapy?

1. Fewer Side Effects

The majority of side effects from immunotherapy are mild, and most people only experience local reactions. Local reactions from allergy shots are usually mild and include swelling, redness, and itching at the injection site.

In rare cases, more severe reactions can occur. These reactions include hives, wheezing, and swelling of the face and throat.

Without the need of injections, drops and tablets have been shown to be much safer. On average, shots have a severe reaction in every 1 out of 100,000 injections while allergy drops have a severe reaction in every 1 out of 1,000,000 doses. Additionally, there has never been a reported death from allergy drops.

2. It is Effective

When administered by a trained allergist, immunotherapy is safe and effective. It is usually given to children and adults who are allergic to dust mites, pet dander, pollen, or insect bites. 

3. It Can Help You Avoid Traditional Allergy Treatments

If you’re looking to avoid traditional allergy treatments, such as antihistamines and decongestants, immunotherapy may be a good option for you. These traditional treatments can often have undesirable side effects, such as drowsiness and dry mouth.

4. It is Affordable

The cost of immunotherapy can vary depending on the type of allergy and the number of shots needed. On average, the cost of allergy shots can exceed $3000 while the price of allergy drops can vary. Our company currently offers drops between $49 and $99 depending on the plan. Prices will depend on insurance offerings and allergist pricing.

5. It is Convenient

Allergy shots are typically given once a week for several months during the build-up phase. After the shots patients typically must remain supervised for 30 minutes to ensure no adverse side-effects. Once the maintenance dose is reached, shots are usually given once a month for several years.

Other types of immunotherapy include sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) and oral immunotherapy (OIT). With SLIT, a person places a drop of allergen extract under their tongue. In this treatment there is no need for an allergist to administer the treatment. Therefore, it's done at the patient's home. With OIT, a person eats a very small amount of allergen. These types of treatment are typically preferred by patients who are looking for a more convenient treatment option. 

What are the Risks of Getting Immunotherapy?

There are a few risks that are associated with immunotherapy. The most common side effect is itchiness and redness at the injection site. Typically speaking, immunotherapy administered by shots have higher risks. Most side effects usually go away within a few hours. Other side effects may include:

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening)

If you experience any of these side effects, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Who Should Get Immunotherapy?

If you’re looking for a long-term solution to your allergies, immunotherapy may be a good option for you. It can be especially helpful if you have severe allergies or if traditional treatments haven’t worked for you.

Immunotherapy is not recommended for people with certain health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma, or a history of severe reactions to allergy shots.

It’s also not recommended for pregnant women or young children. If you’re considering immunotherapy, talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you.

Immunotherapy FAQs

How Effective is immunotherapy?

The effectiveness of allergy immunotherapy varies from person to person. In general, shots and drops are most effective in people who are allergic to inhaled allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander. With drops having a much higher adherence rate, they have been shown to be more effective.

For people with these types of allergies, immunotherapy can reduce symptoms by up to 80%. The shots are less effective for people with food allergies or venom allergies. Immunotherapy is not a cure for allergies, but it can help reduce your symptoms and make them more manageable.

What to Expect During Immunotherapy

The process of immunotherapy can vary depending on the type of therapy you receive. 

Allergy shots are the most common form of immunotherapy. With this treatment, you’ll receive injections of a small amount of the substance you’re allergic to. The dose will be increased over time. 

Sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, is another form of immunotherapy. With this treatment, you place drops of a diluted allergen under your tongue. The dose is increased over time. 

Sublingual immunotherapy is usually given daily. Many people are able to make the treatment a part of their daily routine. Sublingual immunotherapy and allergy shots should be done for a minimum of 3 years.

Is Immunotherapy Safe for Kids?

Yes, immunotherapy is safe for kids. In fact, it’s often recommended for kids with allergies because it can help reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life. 

The most common side effect of immunotherapy is a local reaction at the injection site, which can cause redness, swelling, and itching. These reactions are usually mild and go away on their own. 

In rare cases, immunotherapy can cause a more serious allergic reaction, but this is rare and can be treated with medication.

What Drug is in Allergy Shots?

The most common type of immunotherapy is allergy shots, which contain a small amount of the allergen you’re allergic to. The allergen is usually injected into your skin, and the amount of allergen in the shot is increased over time. Allergy shots are usually given once a week for several months, and then the frequency is decreased to once a month for several years.

How to Prepare for Immunotherapy

Your doctor will likely give you a list of instructions to follow before your first immunotherapy treatment. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have about the procedure.

You may be asked to stop taking certain medications, such as antihistamines, for a period of time before your treatment. This is because these medications can interfere with the effectiveness of immunotherapy. This is typically asked with allergy shots but not asked with allergy drops.

Your doctor may also recommend that you avoid eating or drinking for a few hours before your treatment. This is to prevent any vomiting or nausea that may occur during the procedure.

Can Immunotherapy Help With Food Allergies?

The only way to avoid a reaction from a food allergy is to completely avoid the food. There is no cure for food allergies, and neither desensitization nor shots have been proven to be safe or effective ways to reduce reactions. If you are interested in being part of future research for treatments, you can contact the Family Allergy & Asthma Research Institute.

Can Immunotherapy Help With Pet Allergies?

Yes, immunotherapy can help with pet allergies. If you’re allergic to pets, your body overreacts to the proteins in their skin, saliva, and urine.

This can cause symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and asthma. Immunotherapy can help by “desensitizing” your body to these proteins. Over time, your symptoms will become less severe, and you may even be able to tolerate being around pets.

What Are the Side Effects of Immunotherapy?

The most common side effect of immunotherapy is mild soreness, redness, or itching at the injection site. 

Other possible side effects include:

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hives
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own. If you have a severe reaction, you may need to receive treatment in a hospital.

How Much Does Immunotherapy Cost?

The cost of immunotherapy can vary depending on the type of therapy you receive and your insurance coverage. 

Allergy shots typically cost between $150 and $300 per month. Sublingual immunotherapy typically costs between $49 and $99 per month. 

Some insurance companies cover the cost of immunotherapy, while others do not. Check with your insurance company to see if immunotherapy is covered under your plan.

Conclusion

Immunotherapy is a treatment option for allergies that can be very effective. It involves exposing the body to small amounts of the allergen in order to build up immunity to it. This treatment can be done in several ways, including injections, tablets, and drops.

There are potential side effects of immunotherapy, but these are usually mild and go away on their own. The most common side effects are itching, redness, and swelling at the injection site.

If you are considering immunotherapy for your allergies, be sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

Are you on Google looking up "allergy immunotherapy near me"? You've come to the right place! Curex helps you stop allergies at the source by offering a convenient alternative to time-consuming allergy shots. Curex’s at-home sublingual immunotherapy is easy to administer and may be done so in the comfort of your own home. You won’t need to travel to a doctor’s office weekly to receive doses, and sublingual immunotherapy may be less expensive than allergy shots if paying out of pocket.

Take our free quiz to find out if at-home immunotherapy is right for you. Or, contact one of our care managers to find out more.

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