Immunotherapy For Allergies: Know 6 Benefits, Considerations And Safety Profile!

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Published on: 11-Apr-2024

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Immunotherapy For Allergies: Know 6 Benefits, Considerations And Safety Profile!

Immunotherapy For Allergies: Know 6 Benefits, Considerations And Safety Profile!

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Immunotherapy for allergies is the most reliable targeted therapeutic method, which aims to reprogram your immune system's response to specific allergens, thereby reducing the severity and frequency of allergic symptoms. From decreasing reliance on medications to preventing the progression of allergic diseases, immunotherapy offers a multifaceted approach to allergy treatment. This is why understanding the benefits of immunotherapy for allergies alongside safety profile and long-lasting consideration becomes essential. 

Through a gradual exposure process to allergens, immunotherapy seeks to desensitise the body, providing long-term relief and improved quality of life for people suffering from allergies. While administering some forms of immunotherapy for allergies at home is possible, it's essential to consider its risks. Significant risks of immunotherapy for allergies include severe allergic reactions or side effects, so ensuring proper supervision and guidance throughout treatment is necessary. 

This blog explores the main types of immunotherapies for allergies to help you make the right choice. So, keep reading to learn the best immunotherapy for allergies related to your concern! 

Table Of Contents 

1. What Is Immunotherapy For Allergies? 

2. Which Is The Best Immunotherapy For Allergies  

3. How Successful Is Immunotherapy For Allergies? 6 Health Benefits 

4. Is Immunotherapy Safe For Allergies? 

5. How Long Does Allergy Immunotherapy Last? 

6. Expert’s Advice 

7. The Final Say 

8. FAQs 

9. References 

What Is Immunotherapy For Allergies? 

Also known as allergy shots, immunotherapy for allergies or allergy immunotherapy is a medical treatment designed to modify the body's immune response to specific allergens. Unlike medications that temporarily alleviate allergy symptoms, immunotherapy targets the underlying cause of allergies by gradually desensitising the immune system to allergens that trigger allergic reactions. This process involves administering increasing doses of allergen extracts over time to reduce the severity and frequency of allergic reactions. 

The mechanism of immunotherapy relies on the principle of immune tolerance, wherein the immune system learns to recognise allergens as harmless rather than harmful substances. By exposing controlled amounts of small allergens to your immune system through regular injections or sublingual administration, immunotherapy helps retrain the immune system's response, ultimately leading to a decrease in allergic symptoms. 

Over time, immunotherapy patients typically experience a reduction in allergy symptoms, a decrease in the need for allergy medications, and an improvement in their overall quality of life. 

Which Is The Best Immunotherapy For Allergies? 

Note these two main categories of the best immunotherapy for allergies for reference: 

Points to Consider 

Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (SCIT) 

Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) 

Administration 

It involves injections of allergen extracts under the skin. There are initial frequent visits for the buildup phase followed by less frequent maintenance injections. 

It involves placing allergen extracts under the tongue in the form of tablets or drops. It can be self-administered at home with daily doses. 

Chances Of Success 

It is highly effective in reducing allergy symptoms and medication use for allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, and insect venom allergies. 

Effectively reduces allergy symptoms and medication use for allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma. 

Side Effects 

It is generally safe but carries a small risk of allergic reactions, including local reactions at the injection site and rare systemic responses. Administration must be done in a healthcare setting. 

It is generally safe and well-tolerated, with mild side effects such as oral itching or swelling. Severe reactions are rare. The initial dose must be under medical supervision. 

Convenience 

Requires frequent clinic visits, particularly during the buildup phase. Healthcare professionals administer injections. 

Offers convenience with at-home administration. Requires less frequent clinic visits. Patients can self-administer the treatment. 

Patient Preference 

It may be preferred by individuals who are comfortable with injections and like the long-term benefits associated with SCIT. 

Suitable for patients who prefer at-home treatment, have a fear of needles, or require a more convenient treatment option. 

Cost and Insurance Coverage 

Costs depend on the frequency of clinic visits and insurance coverage. Injection supplies and clinic fees may add to the overall cost. 

Costs may vary but may include the price of tablets or drops. Insurance coverage may vary, so it's important to check coverage for the medication and any necessary medical visits. 

Monitoring and Follow-Up 

Regular follow-up visits with doctors are required to assess treatment progress, adjust dosage, and address any concerns. 

Requires periodic check-ins with healthcare providers to monitor treatment response and address any issues or concerns. 

How Successful Is Immunotherapy For Allergies? 6 Health Benefits  


Let's explore the major benefits of immunotherapy for allergies, whether in the form of allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) or sublingual tablets/drops (sublingual immunotherapy): 

1. Gives Long-Term Relief 

Immunotherapy exposes the immune system to small, controlled doses of allergens, gradually desensitising the body's response over time. This process modifies the immune system's reaction to allergens, leading to long-lasting relief from allergy symptoms. Studies have shown that the benefits of immunotherapy can persist for years after treatment completion, providing sustained relief from allergies and improving overall well-being. 

2. Reduces Allergy Symptoms 

Immunotherapy can effectively alleviate many allergy symptoms, including sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, watery eyes, and asthma exacerbations. Research indicates that immunotherapy can significantly reduce the severity and frequency of these symptoms, allowing individuals to enjoy a better quality of life with fewer interruptions from allergic reactions. 

3. Decreases Reliance On Medications 

Successful immunotherapy often reduces the need for allergy medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, and asthma inhalers. This reduction in medication dependence not only saves on healthcare costs but also lowers the risk of long-term medication use side effects, such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and rebound congestion. 

4. Prevents Allergy Progression 

Immunotherapy has been shown to modify the underlying immune response to allergens, potentially preventing the progression of allergic concerns, like asthma and allergic rhinitis, to more severe forms. By addressing the root cause of allergies, immunotherapy halts the development of new allergies or sensitivities, providing long-term protection against allergic reactions and associated health complications. 

5. Improves Tolerance To Allergens 

Through gradual exposure to increasing doses of allergens, immunotherapy helps individuals develop tolerance to specific allergens that previously triggered allergic reactions. This increased tolerance reduces the likelihood of experiencing severe allergic episodes and allows people to better tolerate environmental allergens without significant discomfort or symptoms. 

6. Enhances Quality Of Life 

Immunotherapy's ability to effectively manage allergy symptoms and reduce medication use contributes to an overall improvement in the quality of life for many individuals. With fewer disruptions to daily activities, improved sleep quality, and enhanced productivity, individuals undergoing immunotherapy report higher satisfaction and well-being than before starting treatment. 

Is Immunotherapy Safe For Allergies? 

Note these key points regarding the safety of immunotherapy for allergies for reference: 

Key Points 

Impacts 

Tips 

Effectiveness 

Allergy immunotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for allergies, particularly allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and allergic asthma. 

It can significantly reduce allergy symptoms and many individuals' need for allergy medications. 

Ensure to discuss the benefits and risks of immunotherapy with your healthcare provider before starting treatment. 

Safety Profile 

When appropriately administered under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider, allergy immunotherapy is generally safe. 

Severe adverse reactions are low, but mild side effects such as local reactions at the injection site, itching, swelling, or congestion may occur. 

Before starting immunotherapy, inform your doctor about any allergies or medical conditions, including any medications you take. 

Immunotherapy Types 

There are mainly two types of allergy immunotherapy treatment: subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), commonly called allergy shots, and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), which involves placing allergen extracts under the tongue. 

SLIT is often preferred for its convenience and lower risk of severe reactions compared to SCIT. 

Follow the recommended schedule for allergy shots or sublingual tablets/drops as your healthcare provider prescribes. 

Gradual Process 

Immunotherapy involves a gradual buildup phase, during which the allergen doses are gradually increased, followed by a maintenance phase, during which the same dose is administered at regular intervals. 

This slow progression helps minimise the risk of adverse reactions. 

Report any unusual or severe reactions to your healthcare provider immediately and follow their guidance on adjusting the dosage or treatment plan if necessary. 

Risk Factors 

While immunotherapy is generally safe for most individuals, certain factors, including uncontrolled asthma, severe allergies, or medications affecting your immune system, increase the risk of adverse reactions. 

Doctors need to assess everyone's suitability for immunotherapy and monitor them closely. 

Attend all follow-up appointments your healthcare provider schedules to monitor your response to immunotherapy. 

How Long Does Allergy Immunotherapy Last? 

The duration of allergy immunotherapy varies depending on the specific type of immunotherapy (subcutaneous or sublingual), the severity of allergies, individual response to treatment, and the treatment guideline prescribed by the expert. 

Let’s explore some general guidelines regarding the duration of allergy immunotherapy: 

1. Buildup Phase 

The buildup phase of allergy immunotherapy typically lasts several months. During this phase, the dose of allergen extracts gradually increased at regular intervals until the target dose is reached. The duration of the buildup phase may vary from a few weeks to several months, depending on the treatment protocol and individual response. 

2. Maintenance Phase 

After reaching the target dose during the buildup phase, patients enter the maintenance phase of immunotherapy. This phase involves receiving the same dose of allergen extracts at regular intervals, usually every 2-4 weeks, for subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) and daily or several times a week for sublingual immunotherapy (under-the-tongue tablets or drops). For optimal effectiveness, the maintenance phase typically lasts 3-5 years, but it varies depending on individual response and the healthcare provider's recommendation. 

3. Long-Term Benefits 

While active treatment may last several years, the benefits of allergy immunotherapy can often persist long after treatment is completed. Many individuals experience lasting relief from allergy symptoms and reduced need for allergy medications even after discontinuing immunotherapy. Some studies suggest that the benefits of immunotherapy continue for several years or even decades following treatment completion. 

4. Individual Variation 

It's important to note that the duration of allergy immunotherapy may vary from person to person. Some patients require longer treatment periods to get optimal results, while others may experience significant improvement in allergy symptoms relatively quickly. 

5. Follow-Up And Maintenance 

After completing the prescribed course of allergy immunotherapy, patients may undergo periodic follow-up evaluations with their healthcare provider to monitor their allergy symptoms and overall response to treatment. In some cases, additional booster doses or maintenance therapy may be recommended to sustain the benefits of immunotherapy over time. 

Expert’s Advice 

I recommend consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats to provide essential nutrients and promote overall health. It is advised to control portion sizes, manage meals, and incorporate mindful eating practices to support weight management and prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Special dietary considerations, such as food allergies or intolerances, digestive disorders, or specific nutritional needs during different life stages, such as pregnancy or ageing, should be emphasised. 

Health Expert  
Aditi Upadhyay 

The Final Say 

The effectiveness of immunotherapy for allergies proves to be a promising and reliable treatment option for people suffering from allergic sensitivities. With its ability to target the underlying cause of allergic reactions and provide long-term relief, immunotherapy offers hope for a better lifestyle and symptom management. While considering immunotherapy for allergies, people often weigh treatment options' costs, benefits, types, and risks to opt for the best-suited treatment. 

While the cost of immunotherapy for allergies depends on the type of immunotherapy chosen and insurance coverage, its highlighted benefits are numerous. By considering your needs, preferences, and medical history, doctors will tailor immunotherapy regimens to maximise effectiveness and minimise risks, ultimately offering treatment options for better allergy control and holistic wellness. 

FAQs 

1. How much does immunotherapy for allergies cost? 

The cost of immunotherapy for allergies varies depending on the type of immunotherapy (subcutaneous or sublingual), the duration of treatment, and individual healthcare provider fees. Also, insurance coverage may affect your budget. It's advisable to consult with your doctor to understand the specific costs of immunotherapy for your allergies. 

2. What are the immunotherapy for allergy side effects? 

While immunotherapy is generally safe, some people may have mild side effects like redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site (for subcutaneous immunotherapy) or oral itching or swelling (for sublingual immunotherapy). Less commonly, people experience systemic reactions like hives, wheezing, or anaphylaxis. It's essential to discuss side effects with a doctor early on for prompt medical attention if you experience any concerning symptoms. 

3. What are the benefits of immunotherapy for allergies? 

Immunotherapy offers several benefits for people suffering from allergies, including long-term relief from allergy symptoms, reduced reliance on allergy medications, prevention of allergy progression, improved tolerance to allergens, and enhanced quality of life. By targeting the underlying cause of allergies, immunotherapy provides a comprehensive approach to allergy management, leading to lasting symptom relief and improved overall well-being. 

4. What are the types of immunotherapies available for allergies? 

There are two main types of immunotherapies for allergies: 

  • SCIT involves injecting allergen extracts under the skin, typically administered in healthcare. 

  • SLIT involves extracts of allergen placed under your tongue in the form of tablets or drops, which can be self-administered at home. 

Both SCIT and SLIT are effective in reducing any allergy symptoms and enhancing the lifestyle of people who suffer from allergies. 

References 

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