Allergies and Your Immune System
Your immune system responds to allergies by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemical mediators, causing an allergic reaction.
What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy (allergy shots) is aimed at increasing your tolerance to allergens that trigger your symptoms every time you are exposed to them. Allergy Shots are in essence a series of injections to control allergy symptoms. Allergy shots are not a medication, they are a serum made up of the very same proteins that you inhale. This serum is also known as a vaccine to the allergen to which you have a sensitivity. Receiving allergy shots desensitizes allergy patients to their specific allergens and is the only way to “turn off” the immune system’s reactions.
How Does Immunotherapy Work?
By gradually increasing the doses of your allergen, your body develops an immunity and/or tolerance to that allergen. In essence, allergy shots turn off an inappropriate immune response –your allergic reaction to a plant, tree, pet or mold –while still allowing your immune system to respond normally to infectious agents, especially viruses. Allergy patients are frequently able to get rid of their allergies and become medication “free” by gradually developing a stronger tolerance to his or her allergens. With allergy shots, your allergy symptoms can be decreased, minimized or even eliminated through this process that slowly makes your body less responsive to inhaled allergens over the course of several months to years.
Types of Immunotherapy Protocols
Hill Country Allergy & Asthma offers several different protocols for achieving desensitization to aeroallergens and venom from stinging insects. These include traditional protocols with weekly injections, cluster protocol consisting of two sets of injections at each visit, as well as rush (rapid desensitization) immunotherapy which is a rapid desensitization taking place over two days. Immunotherapy consists of 2 phases: Build up and Maintenance. Each method has different steps that can be further explained once you make an appointment.
Immunotherapy Subcutaneous (shots) and Sublingual (under the tongue) are both offered by Hill Country Allergy & Asthma. FDA Studies are ongoing with sublingual immunotherapy.
For more Info on Sublingual Immunotherapy visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website.