The organic benefits of Allergen Immunotherapy (IT)

Up to 25% of the population in the industrial world suffers from allergies, and the number is rising. Today we are going to give you some of the basics regarding Allergen Immunotherapy (IT). You may have undiagnosed allergies that could be responsible for some health issues. Learning about Allergen Immunotherapy today could help your overall health tomorrow and that is our main goal here at Organically In

Allergies are reactions of your immune system to substances that, in most people, cause no symptoms. Allergies occur due to an immune response that reacts towards natural substances in the environment the same way that it would react towards something harmful. The reason that the immune system reacts to a harmless substance is unknown by the latest research today.

Types of Allergies

Four types of allergies exist: respiratory allergy, skin-related allergy, food allergy and allergy to insects.

  1. Respiratory allergy: The respiratory system is usually affected if a person is allergic to tree pollen, grass pollen, animals (such as pets and farm animals), molds and house dust mites. Allergic symptoms include sneezing, itching, watery eyes and nose and wheezing. Hayfever (rhinitis) and/or asthma are the most common results of respiratory allergies.
  2. Skin-related allergy: Allergy to substances such as metals and fragrances and allergy to proteins such as latex affect the skin and is known as allergic eczema or contact allergy (contact dermatitis). The symptoms are usually itching, burning, reddening and blisters at the affected area. Allergic eczema most often occurs in early childhood, but also appears in older children and adults.
  3. Food allergy: The most common food related allergies are: cow’s milk, egg proteins, soy, peanuts and fish. Eczema, diarrhea, nausea, and in some cases, anaphylaxis, are potential symptoms of food-related allergies.
  4. Allergy to insects: Hornets, wasps, yellowjackets, honeybees, and in some parts of the country, fire ants, cause nearly all allergies to insects. Although many people will react to the venom of a stinging insect in some way, less than 5% of the population are truly “allergic”.The most serious allergic reaction to an insect sting is anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include: exhaustion, dizziness, swelling of the throat, unconsciousness or cardiac arrest.

What is Allergen Immunotherapy (IT)?

Allergen Immunotherapy (IT), also known as allergy shots. is a preventative treatment that requires the administration of gradually increasing amounts of allergic material to a patient over a specified time period. Ironically, the same substances (allergens) that cause allergies are also used to treat them in clinical therapy. These incremental increases cause your immune system to become less sensitive to the allergens , reducing your symptoms when the same allergen is encountered in the future in your cells of your body on a microscopic level.

How is IT performed?

The delicate process of allergen immunotherapy begins with the injection (shot) of a weak concentration of an allergen extract. Injections of increasingly stronger concentrations are given until the patient reaches the top or maintenance dose over s specified period of time.

The rate a which the concentration can be increased depends on the patient’s degree of sensitivity to the specific allergen given. Most patients are treated for three to five years, sometimes longer. Dramatic improvements in allergic symptoms can usually been seen within the first few months of treatment. Find an allergist specialty doctor in your area today for a consultation. It is a process from diagnosis to skin testing to treatment so be ready for multiple appointments but if you are patient with the process you may notice great improvements in your symptoms and overall health. The younger that you start the better.

Effectiveness of IT

Allergen Immunotherapy is the only treatment with potential to cure allergy. Many clinical studies have shown that 80-90% of patients’ allergies improve and that the treatment remains effective for at least 6 years after the shots are discontinued.

Indications for IT

Allergen Immunotherapy is usually indicated in those patients where:

  • Symptoms are moderate to severe and occur more than 2-3 months each year
  • Symptomatic medications have been unsuccessful
  • Patient prefers IT over long-term drug treatment
  • Allergens are not easily avoided
  • The possibility exists to prevent more severe allergies or asthma

Side Effects of IT

Although allergen immunotherapy has been proven to be highly effective in treating the underlying cause of allergies, patients on allergen immunotherapy may experience some side effects. Some individuals experience itching and redness at the site of injection, while others experience local swelling and soreness 8-12 hours after injection. Although, these local reactions may produce discomfort, they are not serious. Serious systematic reactions can occur, but they are rare and are not likely to occur when proper precautions have been taken.

Information About Allergy Shots

Allergy shots are given to produce increasing immunity to the inhaled airborne particles (pollens, dusts, danders, etc) which you have become allergic to. This form of treatment requires you to make a long-term commitment. While improvement in symptoms usually occurs within a few weeks to a few months, discontinuing treatment too soon carries a substantial likelihood of relapsing to your original state of allergy.  The minimum course of treatment is usually considered to be three to four year. Allergy shots are substantially helpful in the great majority of cases, but is not a perfect treatment. Studies show that there is a 10% possibility that you may not receive any benefit. 10% is a small number.

Each time that you receive an injection during the build up phase of treatment, there is an increase in the dose of allergen. Initially treatment is usually administered twice weekly, although a once a week schedule may be used in certain cases. After a period of time, which varies in each individual case, the interval is lengthened to once a week, every two weeks and then every three to four weeks for maintenance. Depending on the individual circumstances and response to treatment, it may take form six to twelve months to reach the maintenance dose.

You should avoid strenuous exercise, especially aerobic exercise, for half an hour before and at least four hours after an injection. Activity which speeds up your circulation results in more rapid absorption of the injected material and can lead to an adverse reaction which would otherwise not occur. An unusually heavy exposure to one or more allergens soon after an injection (e.g. pollens or dust) can result in a flare-up of allergic symptoms.

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