Those who suffer from chronic allergies often rely on medications for symptom relief. This reactive approach to allergy treatment provides short-term benefits but is not a cure. Many who choose to proactively combat their allergies through immunotherapy (allergy shots) eventually build up a tolerance to the offending allergen, resulting in long-term relief.
When your body encounters a substance it deems a threat, the immune system goes on high alert. This triggers a response that leads to annoying symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes and difficulty breathing. Common allergens include pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites and other environmental irritants.
Immunotherapy works by introducing small amounts of an allergen to your body over time in order to gradually increase your tolerance, which reduces or eliminates your symptoms. This vaccine-like therapy works best in patients with allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis and stinging insect allergies; this therapy is much less effective for those with food allergies.
“Allergy immunotherapy is a well-established, safe and effective treatment,” said Cheryl Hankin, President and Chief Scientific Officer of BioMedEcon, a leading provider of health economics and outcomes research. “Our research clearly shows that this treatment is also cost effective, and these cost benefits occur almost immediately.”
The success rate of immunotherapy is well documented. An analysis of 24 studies compared the effectiveness of standard asthma treatment with a combination of immunotherapy and standard treatment. The study found that patients who were prescribed this dual approach had the most success. A majority of studies concluded sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) – which involves allergen droplets or pills taken orally – is also effective.
Most researchers agree the success rates of immunotherapy depend upon the proper patient selection for those most likely to see benefits. For this reason, it is important to discuss your symptoms and history with an allergist, who will then recommend the best solution for you. If you feel you might benefit from immunotherapy, your first step is to contact your doctor for an appointment.