If you suffered from seasonal nasal allergies, food allergies, or tactile allergies as a child, you may have found that your reactions to certain allergens are largely outgrown with age, while your body's reaction to other substances only intensifies. Because the treatment and management of allergies is a multi-billion dollar industry, it can be difficult to sort through the masses of information at your disposal, and effective remedies may slip through the cracks. Read on to learn more about how immunotherapy may be able to help permanently reduce or even eliminate many of your allergies.
What causes you to have allergies?
All humans with working immune systems are able to mount a biological response to external stimuli or irritants. Allergies occur when your reaction to relatively normal stimuli goes haywire, causing you to have difficulty breathing or break out into hives after coming into contact with a substance that provides no problem for most individuals. Airborne allergens can trigger an immune response in your throat and sinuses, causing you to feel like you have a cold or sinus infection.
What is immunotherapy?
Although there are a number of over-the-counter and prescription medications designed to help relieve the symptoms of your allergies (or to provide life-saving measures if you undergo anaphylactic shock after encountering an allergen to which you're particularly susceptible), the most long-term remedy for your allergies involves treating the root cause, not the symptoms. At the root of every type of allergy is a faulty or over-sensitive immune response. In many cases, you can retrain your immune system to respond more normally to all varieties of allergens. Immunotherapy can help with this by gradually exposing you to very small amounts of allergens, then building up this exposure over time until you're able to interact with these allergens fairly normally.
What will happen during the immunotherapy process?
Your doctor will first perform a test to determine exactly which common allergens to which you're sensitive -- often by making tiny scratches in the skin on your back and placing a small portion of this allergen beneath your skin. This allows the doctor to determine which allergens it's most important to target by observing your body's reaction to each type.
You'll then revisit the doctor periodically for a series of allergy shots for several months or even years. These shots (like the initial test) still involve a low dose of the allergen. They are designed to allow your body to gradually create immunity, allowing you to reduce the amount of over-the-counter medications you need to manage your symptoms. Over time, you'll become partially or fully immune to the allergen and should be able to handle normal exposure with no ill effects.
If you have specific questions about the immunotherapy process, visit a clinic like Allergy & Asthma Clinic of Wyoming LLC.