Immunotherapy (shots or sublingual drops) is one of the only scientifically proven methods to control allergies for the long-term or potentially “cure” allergic rhinitis. Immunotherapy is ideal for those who cannot avoid their allergic triggers, have problems managing their allergies, or do not like feeling “medicated”. Once the Center has identified your allergens through skin testing, you may consider immunotherapy to control your allergies.
Our program is designed so that you can perform your allergy shots or drops at home. We have a comprehensive program that teaches you how to perform immunotherapy on your home or by another caregiver. We will also instruct you on safety and handling emergencies. Once you are trained, instead of visiting the office once to twice a week you will return every three months for a higher concentration of serum.
The goal of immunotherapy is to allow you to be exposed to your allergic triggers (eg, pollen, dust, mold) without producing symptoms. Immunotherapy works by reducing your sensitivity to whatever triggers your allergies by building up your immunity. Each allergy injection is composed of small amounts of allergens that have been formulated specifically for you. The aim of immunotherapy is to slowly introduce small amounts of allergen into your body without causing an allergic response (sneezing, congestion, etc…). Eventually, the amount of allergen is increased allowing your body to “get used to” the exposure.
- 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.
- Get rid of allergy medications: The second goal is to reduce the amount of allergy medications required to control your allergies.
- 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).
Our program is based on a once-a-week, weekly 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). After about 3-6 months, you should feel the effects of immunotherapy.
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.
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.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) or Allergy Drops, is a form of immunotherapy which does not require injections. Instead, allergen drops are placed under the tongue for a few minutes to be absorbed. Similar to allergy shots, The Pasha Allergy Clinic will create custom drops that are specific to your allergy triggers. Our program allows for you to administer the drops at home on a daily basis. SLIT begins with an escalation phase that increases the number of drops and concentration until a maintenance level is reached.
One of the advantages of SLIT is that it is extremely safe. Furthermore, it does not require injections or needles, which is perfect for children as well as adults who are “needle-phobic.”
SLIT is popular in Europe but has not been FDA approved in the U.S. Nonetheless, studies have demonstrated that SLIT is effective and safe. SLIT is also an alternative to those who take beta-blockers (a common high-blood pressure drug).
No. Despite several published studies demonstrating the effectiveness and safety of SLIT, it does not have FDA approval and therefore considered “experimental.”
Depends on how severe your symptoms may be. Some patients only require months on SLIT others may require several years of allergy drops.