What is Immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a preventative treatment for allergies, where the patient is exposed to allergy triggers (e.g., pollen, dust, mold) without triggering symptoms by “building up” your immunity.

It is the only scientifically proven method to control allergies long term or potentially “cure” allergic rhinitis. Immunotherapy is the gold standard recommendation for those who cannot avoid their allergy triggers, have problems managing their allergies, or do not like taking medications. Each dose has a small amount of allergens that have been formulated specifically for you. Eventually the allergens are increased, allowing your body to get “used to” the exposure over time.

Our office offers two types of immunotherapy: shots and drops. Although we offer in-office administration of allergy shots, both modalities may also be taken at  home. We’ve been administering home immunotherapy safely since 2001. Our program is designed to educate you at your own pace so you have the confidence to perform your own immunotherapy correctly. We will instruct you on safety and on handling any side effects or potential emergencies. Once trained, you would only have to return to the office every 2–3 months for a higher concentration of serum rather than visit our office once or even twice a week like other clinics.

Unlike many programs (especially dedicated “allergy clinics”), we do not believe in maintenance dosing which lasts forever. We go for a “cure” in that once you’ve completed your regimen we simply wean or stop the shots.

FAQ about Home Immunotherapy

What are the goals of Immunotherapy?

1. Control your allergy symptoms: The first goal in immunotherapy is to reduce your symptoms from allergens exposure through the combination of avoidance techniques, medications, and allergy shots.

2. Get rid of allergy medications: The second goal is to reduce the amount of allergy medications required to control your allergies.

3. Stop your allergy shots: Dr. Pasha’s ultimate goal is for you to be off your immunotherapy altogether and be essentially “cured” of your allergies. Not everyone can be “cured” and may require maintenance shots (eg, biweekly injections).

How long does it take for Immunotherapy to work and how will I need them?

Our program is based on a once-a-week schedule. Some patients may require a twice-a-week regimen for severe allergies. After your educational program and once you are comfortable, you may begin home injections typically after your third visit (three weeks). You should feel the benefits  of immunotherapy after a few weeks to upto 3-6 months later.

The length of therapy is very unpredictable. Some patients require a year of therapy and others require years of shots depending on the response of their immune system. The average is between 1-2 years.

Does Immunotherapy work?

Studies have shown that when performed properly the success rate of immunotherapy is 85%. Many patients no longer require injections or medications. Few require monthly to bimonthly maintenance injections. There is a possibility of recurrence of your allergy symptoms; this may occur if you are exposed to new allergens that were not tested previously.

What are the potential side effects of Immunotherapy?

When performed properly, immunotherapy is safe. Only a small amount of allergen is introduced with each injection. A great deal of safety instruction will be provided to you. Additionally, the first series of injections are given in the office in order to evaluate for anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a rare, shock-like reaction due to the allergen. If you remain on schedule with your injections you are less likely to have this reaction.

Subcutaneous Immunotherapy

Subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), or allergy shots, is the oldest of our methods. SCIT is the most studied and is typically covered by insurance. SCIT requires more education and potential side effects but is the fastest and most reliable method for “curing” life-long allergies.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), or allergy drops, is less studied and is not covered by insurance. SLIT, however, is easy to administer and rarely has side effects. We often recommend SLIT for kids or needle-phobic adults.

SCIT
  • Injection
  • Standard therapy
  • Covered by most insurance
  • Shorter course
  • Weekly or bi-weekly dosing
  • Potential side effects and anaphylaxis
SLIT
  • Drops
  • Newer therapy
  • Not covered by insurance
  • Longer course
  • Daily dosing
  • Rare side effects

FAQ about Sublingual Immunotherapy

Does insurance pay for allergy drops?

No. Despite several published studies demonstrating the effectiveness and safety of SLIT, it does not have FDA approval and therefore considered “experimental.”

How long will I be on sublingual drops?

Depends on how severe your symptoms may be. Some patients only require months on SLIT others may require several years of allergy drops.

Can my child be put on allergy drops?

Absolutely. SLIT is popular for children because there are no needles or injections. Dr. Pasha limits SLIT to ages >5 years old.

Immunotherapy for Allergies

Dr. Pasha explains allergy management and nasal surgery.

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Stop Your Sneezes with Sublingual Immunotherapy

The word immunotherapy means the prevention of disease with substances that stimulate the immune response. In other words, you’re training your immune system to fight off the infection by ingesting the infection itself in very small, controlled amounts. For something like allergies, where you’re constantly exposed to your triggers, this type of treatment is ideal.

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