What is Immunotherapy and Can it Cure My Allergies?

There are many medications available that do a good job of controlling the periodic itching, sneezing, watery eyes, and other symptoms caused by allergies. But when you’re forced to spend entire seasons hiding from pollen or have year-round issues that keep you feeling miserable more days than not, immunotherapy that exposes you to very small amounts of your allergy triggers over time may be your best treatment option.

Medical science continues to work at improving immunotherapy, including delivering it orally rather than by injections, but doctors have used it for more than a century to help desensitize their patients to allergens like ragweed pollen, bee venom, dust mites, and pet dander.

It takes time to experience results and you must receive this treatment under a doctor’s supervision because mistakes can be fatal. For many, however, immunotherapy is an effective pathway to remission from allergies.

Dr. Vandana Kumra is a well-respected specialist with a thriving practice, ENT New York, that’s located in historic Central Park West in Manhattan. Learn why she often recommends her patients consider immunotherapy for persistent symptoms that don’t respond sufficiently to other forms of allergy treatment.

Immunotherapy addresses the root cause of allergies

You may blame pollen, pet dander, and other allergens for your symptoms—but they’re only part of the story. These substances may trigger your discomfort, but it’s an underlying issue with your immune system that creates the resulting chaos.

It’s true that bee stings deliver venom designed to protect the hive and pollens can be irritating to your respiratory system. Normally, however, you’d have a local reaction to a sting, which might include a painful red bump, or experience a healthy sneeze to clear out the pollen in your nose.

When you have allergies, your immune system goes into overdrive and sends out a system-wide call for help. This overreaction causes the itching, sneezing, nasal drainage, hives, and even swelling and breathing difficulties that may indicate anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening emergency associated with allergies.

At ENT New York, our priority is to treat the whole patient, which includes relieving your symptoms as well as addressing the underlying cause of your difficulty. Immunotherapy fulfills that role by getting to the core of the issue as it slowly desensitizes, or essentially vaccinates your immune system against specific allergens it considers highly toxic.

The results of immunotherapy are often well worth the time investment

Immunotherapy for allergies starts with a build-up phase that requires 1-2 visits to the office every week for about 3-6 months. During this phase, we give you increasingly higher doses of the allergen(s) causing your issues until you reach a predetermined target level.

Once you’ve reached the target, you’ll begin a maintenance phase that requires a treatment every 2-4 weeks. You can expect to continue in the maintenance phase for 3-5 years.

That may seem like a huge time investment, but immunotherapy can lead to lasting remission of your allergy symptoms and may prevent you from developing asthma or new allergies.

Immunotherapy is also budget-friendly when compared to long-term use of allergy medications that only address your symptoms and not the core cause of your allergies.     

It only works, however, if you are faithful to the treatment protocol. A few weeks, or even months, of immunotherapy won’t help with your allergies, and it won’t be effective if you skip injections here and there during the course.

Immunotherapy is customized for the individual

We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to your immunotherapy. Rather, we take considerable time to evaluate your symptoms, test for specific allergens, and design a treatment protocol that’s tailored to fit your needs. This patient-centric strategy greatly increases the potential effectiveness of immunotherapy.

If your allergy symptoms aren’t well controlled with your current treatment regimen or you’d like a chance to someday stop allergy medications altogether, schedule a visit at ENT New York today to discuss whether immunotherapy is right for you.

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