How Does Allergy Immunotherapy Work?

Allergy immunotherapy introduces small amounts of allergies to the body and allows the immune system to build a tolerance to allergy triggers. 

Some of the most common allergens include pet dander, pollen, ragweed, mold, and more. 

Discover the two main types of allergy immunotherapy and how immunotherapy is used to target the root cause of allergy symptoms.

What is allergy immunotherapy?

Allergy immunotherapy is a treatment designed to target the cause of allergies and not only symptoms. 

Small amounts of medical-grade allergens are repeatedly introduced to the body, hopefully lowering the immune system’s reactivity to these allergens. 

Other treatments, such as allergy medications, only treat the symptoms of allergies and not their cause. Allergy immunotherapy may provide long-term relief of symptoms and prevent future symptoms, as it trains the body to stop reacting to allergen triggers. 

Two types of allergy immunotherapy are available, including under-the-tongue immunotherapy and allergy shots.

Allergy Shots

If you’ve heard of allergy immunotherapy, there’s a good chance you’re more familiar with allergy shots than under-the-tongue immunotherapy — especially if you live in the U.S. 

Allergy shots have been around for a few decades now and are considered the gold standard of allergy immunotherapy stateside. These shots may be administered at a doctor’s office, usually once a week during the build-up phase and once a month during the maintenance phase. 

Subcutaneous immunotherapy patients start to feel relief from allergy symptoms within 6 to 10 months of beginning treatment

Though allergy shots are generally safe, side effects, such as anaphylaxis, are a risk.

Under-the-Tongue Immunotherapy

Under-the-tongue immunotherapy (more formally called sublingual immunotherapy) has been the more popular form of immunotherapy in Europe — especially in France. 

This type of allergy immunotherapy is administered underneath the tongue (as its name suggests). Doses may be self-administered at home, often without a doctor’s supervision, as anaphylaxis is rarer than with allergy shots.

Immunotherapy Vs Other Allergy Treatments

Of course, allergy immunotherapy isn’t the only way to treat allergies. Though immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies, other allergy medications are available to treat symptoms. 

While allergy medication won’t cure allergies, treating symptoms can be equally as important. 

Some patients aren’t good candidates for allergy immunotherapy and don’t want to suffer from symptoms. Others simply want a break from symptoms while they’re waiting for their system to develop a tolerance to allergens during the immunotherapy build-up and maintenance phases.  

The most common types of allergy medications include antihistamines, nasal steroids, and saline sprays. 

Antihistamines

Antihistamines are a class of allergy medications that block histamine, the substance created by the body that can cause itching, redness, swelling, and other allergy symptoms. 

Nasal Steroids

Nasal steroids are another class of medications that treat the symptoms of allergies. They’re chemically engineered hormones that reduce nasal inflammation. 

You can get these with a doctor’s prescription or over the counter.

These medications have been proven effective at reducing allergy symptoms; yet, they aren’t without disadvantages. Many patients that take these medications report side effects, such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and low blood pressure. 

Since antihistamines and nasal steroids only target the symptoms of allergies (and not the cause), you may need to use them whenever you come into contact with allergens.

How Does Allergy Immunotherapy Work? Immunotherapy Benefits

Immunotherapy offers two main benefits, including both treating allergy symptoms and decreasing the need for allergy medication.

Treat Allergy Symptoms 

While allergy immunotherapy doesn’t only treat the symptoms, reducing symptoms (and sometimes eliminating them altogether) is one of the main benefits of this treatment. 

Since immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies, it can also prevent symptoms, such as itching, watering eyes and nose, and redness. 

Most immunotherapy patients report their allergies are reduced by 65%. By treating the cause of the allergies, patients don’t need to constantly manage their symptoms.  

Each allergy season (or anytime when allergens are present), patients may need to treat their symptoms before or as they arise. But allergy immunotherapy can help to prevent the symptoms by treating the cause of allergies. 

Decrease Need for Allergy Medication

Since allergy immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies, symptoms may not arise. If symptoms are milder (or in some cases may stop altogether), there’s no need to reach for allergy medication. 

It is common for some patients to continue using their allergy medication for the build-up phase of immunotherapy treatment; yet, many are able to cut back on doses or stop taking medications as allergies subside. 

Fewer symptoms and smaller doses of allergy medications mean fewer (or less severe) side effects and less money spent on antihistamines and nasal steroids. 

What allergies does immunotherapy treat?

Allergies commonly by immunotherapy include dust mite, mold, pollen, tree, grass, pet dander allergies, and more. Immunotherapy can also help treat allergy-triggered asthma, eczema, and a variety of other allergy-related conditions.

Immunotherapy is available in person and online. Allergy shots may be administered by a doctor that specializes in allergies and are only available in person. Sublingual immunotherapy is available both in-person and online. 

Online platfrms such as Curex offer at-home under-the-tongue immunotherapy and prescription allergy medication by mail and telehealth appointment. 

Are there any side effects to immunotherapy?

Like any prescription treatment, allergy immunotherapy isn’t for everyone. 

The most common side effects of allergy shots include redness and swelling at the injection site. Anaphylaxis is also possible, and clinicians may require you to stay for observation for up to 30 minutes after your appointment. 

Anaphylaxis is rarer with sublingual immunotherapy. According to one 2017 study, “Sublingual immunotherapy has a more favorable safety profile than subcutaneous immunotherapy.” 

Curex Allergy Immunotherapy

Curex offers several different at-home allergy treatment plans. 

Whether you just need to treat the symptoms of allergies with prescription medication, the cause of allergies with immunotherapy, or allergic eczema, asthma, or dermatitis, Curex has a plan that fits your lifestyle.
Chat with a customer care specialist to find out which one is right for you.
Plans include consultations with a Curex medical provider, pharmacy fulfillment, and platform fees. Allergy treatment coverage includes cat, dog, mold, dust mite, cockroach, and pollen (trees, weeds, grasses) allergies.

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