What is Allergen Immunotherapy?
There are a large number of people who suffer from allergic
rhinitis. What is causing even more trouble is the fact that more than half of
those individuals only get partial or even poor benefits from all treatment methods
which are based on the symptoms. This is why there is a growing number of
patients suffering from allergic rhinitis who choose immuno-densitisation therapy
in order to get rid of their medical conditions.
Subcutaneous immunotherapy is
based on injections and it is very effective but it may sometimes be associated
with certain serious side effects so the allergen vaccination immunotherapy
seems like a much safer and popular option. Allergen immunotherapy is intended
to help all those who suffer from allergic disorders and it comes in the form
of a vaccine which contains high doses of allergens. These vaccines are very
efficient in inducing immunologic tolerance, reducing the remission of allergic
symptoms and improving the quality of one’s overall life. All of this happens
mainly due to the fact that when influenced by the vaccine, the immune system
of a person gets modulated so that it responds differently to the harmful
Immunotherapy can be administered under the tongue or under the
skin, depending on the skin. This is the only type of treatment for allergies
which modifies the allergic process without relying on the suppression of the
symptoms. As already mentioned, sublingual type of immunotherapy is more
sought after than its subcutaneous counterpart mainly due to the fact that it
does not involve the risk of anaphylaxis.
Numerous scientific studies have shown that immunotherapy is much more efficient in treating patients who suffer from allergic disorders than all other sorts of medications such as topical steroids or antihistamines. Immunotherapy treatment is highly flexible and it can be carried out in the safety of one’s home and, according to various medical statistics, it is the most cost effective treatment strategy for all those who suffer from different types of allergic disorders.
One needs to be aware of the fact that immunotherapy needs
to be started a few months prior to the allergen season so that it can be fully
Subcutaneous immunotherapy is administered through small hypodermic
syringes into the back of the upper arm. This location is actually the one
which involves the least painful sensation because it contains only a few nerve
endings. In most cases, the injections can be tolerated easily as they involve
only slight amounts of discomfort.
The process initially involves very low
doses of allergens which gradually get increased over time on a regular weekly
basis until a certain maintenance dose gets reached. Once that dose is reached
the frequency of intervals between two injections is increased to a few weeks
but it still requires a regular application.
Another form of immunotherapy is called
intralymphatic immunotherapy and it involves distribution of specific allergens
directly into a subcutaneous lymph node. This leads to a significantly
increased resistance to peptides and proteins. It involves virtually no pain at
all and the whole process is very easy to perform.
Another popular type of
immunotherapy is the one medicinally referred to as sublingual immunotherapy.
It is probably the safest of all methods of immunotherapy and involves administration of specific allergens under the tongue.
Transcutaneous or epicutaneous immunotherapy is yet another form of immunotherapy and it includes administration of allergen by means of a skin patch.
Side Effects and Statistical Data
Sublingual immunotherapy is the safest one so even the rare cases of side effects involve only the mild ones which are usually only local reactions to the administration of allergens. The most common side effects associated with sublingual immunotherapy include swelling of the mouth, itching of the mouth, sneezing, throat irritation, ear pruritus, edema of the oral cavity and oral pruritus. Some rare side effects which may also be associated with this type of immunotherapy may or may not include fatigue, pruritus, throat tightness, rhinitis, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, pharyngitis, asthma, cough, conjunctivitis, eye pruritus, oral paresthesia and headaches. Most cases of side effects diminish on their own and do not require any medical interventions.
Subcutaneous immunotherapy can get much more serious when it comes to side effects. One should not worry if certain mild side effects such as redness, swelling and itchiness occur at the site of the injection. In some cases, subcutaneous immunotherapy may be associated with certain types of systemic reactions such as anaphylaxis. According to certain medical statistics, such systemic reactions tend to occur in no more than 4 percent of patients who decide upon subcutaneous immunotherapy as a method of treatment for their allergic disorders. Fortunately enough, the risk of serious systemic reactions to subcutaneous immunotherapy can be reduced significantly by using corticosteroids and antihistamines prior to the immunotherapy. Serious side effects of immunotherapy require immediate medical attention.