What is Immunotherapy for Allergy Treatment?
Updated January 2022
It’s a top ten list that most North Carolinians know all too well. It’s not the latest musical hits or basketball team rankings: This top ten list features pollen, dust mites, mold, and pet dander.
These are among the ten most common allergy triggers that can lead to sneezing, a runny nose, a sore throat and other symptoms.
We’ve seen hundreds of patients who have these allergies, and when spring and fall come to North Carolina, it may seem impossible to avoid these allergens.
However, immunotherapy can go a long way toward providing allergy relief. We’ll look at what it is, how it helps, and why our internal medicine physicians in Raleigh are the perfect choice to help you.
What Is Immunotherapy or Allergy Shots for Allergy Treatment?
You may have heard this referred to as “allergy shots.” Immunotherapy is a process that helps your body gradually decrease its sensitivity to allergens. The result? Long-lasting symptom relief that continues after the series of shots have ended.
Because our internal medicine physicians specialize in how different systems in your body work together, we are a natural choice for immunotherapy for allergy relief in the Raleigh and Triangle area.
How Do Allergy Shots Work?
There are several phases to this course of treatment. The first is to determine which allergen is causing the problem. An allergen is anything that causes an allergic reaction. While this may vary from person to person, the most common allergens include:
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
Phase One of Immunotherapy: The Build-up Phase
Once we determine the precise allergen that is causing the problem, we inject just a small amount of this allergen. This is called the “build-up phase.” As the weeks continue, you’ll gradually receive injections with an increasing number of allergens.
The length of this first phase varies from patient to patient. However, you may receive shots one to two times a week for three-to-six months in order to complete this build-up phase, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Phase Two of Immunology: The Maintenance Phase
Once the correct amount of allergen has been built up within your system, you enter a maintenance phase. The amount you receive and the number of additional doses you’ll need to have depend upon how well you responded to the build-up phase.
How Long Does It Take Allergy Shots to Work?
Maintenance treatment may be continued for three-to-five years.
Allergy shots or immunotherapy have been consistently proven to be very effective. However, in some cases it may take as long as 12 months to notice improvements.
Is Immunotherapy Right for Me?
While immunotherapy is effective, it’s not always the right treatment option. We’ll first examine how well you’re responding to current allergy medication and if long-term medication use is appropriate.
Those interested in immunotherapy should also realize that it does require a significant time commitment and you must be available to schedule treatments.
The best candidates for immunotherapy are those who:
- Are unable to avoid the allergens completely
- Have to use multiple medications to manage allergy symptoms
- Are not responding well to allergy medication
- Are in good overall health
Those who have serious conditions such as severe asthma should schedule an appointment with one of our internists to review treatment options.
It’s also important to remember that food allergies CANNOT be treated through immunotherapy.
If you’re still not sure if this is the right choice for you, our earlier post on allergy testing will provide additional information to help you decide.
Raleigh Medical Group Treats Your Seasonal and Year-Round Allergies
Allergies can make your life miserable—and you’re not alone. Allergic rhinitis—more commonly referred to as “hay fever”—affects more than 19 million American adults and 5.2 million children. This makes allergic conditions some of the most common health issues that affect Americans every year, resulting in an annual cost of more than $18 billion, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
For decades, we’ve helped patients with allergy treatment in Raleigh and the Triangle area. Raleigh Medical Group’s internal medicine physicians have extensive expertise in providing comprehensive allergy treatment for adults.
Don’t let “hay fever” keep you from enjoying your favorite time of year. Contact us [link to: https://www.raleighmedicalgroup.com/contact-us ] today.
For more than 45 years, Raleigh Medical Group has served as the Triangle area’s premier internal medicine provider. Comprised of three distinct practices: Raleigh Medical Group, Cary Medical Group and Raleigh Adult Medicine, we tailor our treatments to provide the finest personalized health care available for each stage of your adult life. Contact us to schedule an appointment.