Approximately 50 million people in the United States have allergies — for some, it’s nothing more than a seasonal nuisance, but, for others, allergies can have a serious impact on their lives. If your allergies are interfering with your life and you want more than on-the-spot treatments or short-term management solutions, perhaps you should explore immunotherapy.
At Advanced ENT & Allergy, Dr. Timothy Queen, Nancy Gibson, FNP-BC, and Kristi Pham, MSN, FNP-BC, specialize in allergies and we offer comprehensive allergy testing, as well as solutions.
One of these solutions comes in the form of immunotherapy, which can offer a more sustainable approach to allergies. Here, we explore immunotherapy and whether it might play a role in better addressing your allergies.
When you have an allergy, your body’s immune system registers a harmless substance (an allergen) as something potentially dangerous and launches a response. This response can range from minor sneezing to life-threatening anaphylaxis, depending upon how strongly your body’s immune system reacts.
Through immunotherapy, our goal is to build up tolerance in your immune system until it accepts the allergen without reacting. To do this, we introduce the allergen into your body in very small doses, which we gradually increase over time, until your body no longer reacts as strongly or stops reacting at all. In a sense, we’re desensitizing your immune system to your allergen.
We generally introduce these allergens through regular and controlled injections or sublingually (under your tongue), and we perform your immunotherapy in our offices to monitor your body’s reaction. If you use sublingual immunotherapy, we test the treatments here in our office first, and then you can administer them to yourself at home.
Depending upon your body’s reaction and the extent of your allergies, you may need regular immunotherapy every week for six months to a year, and then we might go to monthly immunotherapy treatments after that.
It’s impossible to say here what your timeline might look like, but our goal is to gradually wean you off of your medications and bring you to a satisfactory maintenance level. In some cases, you may be able to stop immunotherapy altogether if your symptoms disappear. Should they return down the road, we can resume your immunotherapy.
People can be allergic to almost anything, but there are some allergies that are more common than others, and it’s generally in these areas where we can use immunotherapy.
For example, we’ve had great success using immunotherapy for environmental allergens, including:
For people who are allergic to peanuts, immunotherapy is now available, and the treatment is designed to help prevent extreme reactions to the food.
If you want to explore immunotherapy, we need to first conduct allergy testing to pinpoint the exact allergens your body is responding to and then determine whether immunotherapy is appropriate.
If we do offer immunotherapy for your allergies, deciding whether to embark on this treatment is a decision you need to make. Undergoing immunotherapy is a commitment, but if you stick with it, the treatment may deliver great results that allow you to live without medications and with more peace of mind.
If you’d like more guidance on immunotherapy, we invite you to contact our office Newports News, Virginia, to set up a consultation.