What Is Immunotherapy?

The sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, and other symptoms common with many allergic reactions can certainly make life miserable. For some, an allergic reaction can become life-threatening. 

Most often, the recommended allergy treatment is to avoid the substance (allergen) that triggers your symptoms and take oral medications for temporary relief. But what if you can’t avoid your allergens? And what do you do when oral medications don’t provide enough relief or produce intolerable side effects?

Enter immunotherapy. This type of allergy treatment is designed to retrain your immune system so that it ignores the allergens causing your symptoms. At Petoskey Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, with offices in Petoskey and Gaylord, Michigan, our health care providers are expertly trained and skilled in diagnosing and treating allergies. We offer a variety of strategies for allergy care, including allergy immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy for allergies

Allergy immunotherapy is based on the concept that your immune system can be desensitized or “vaccinated” against specific allergens that cause your symptoms. First used in 1911 to treat patients with hay fever, immunotherapy has continued to evolve into an effective therapy that can provide relief from allergies for years after you’ve finished treatment.

Immunotherapy has proven highly effective in treating:

It won’t cure allergies, but it can help you forget you ever had them.

Who benefits from immunotherapy?

Children and adults can benefit from immunotherapy. In general, the benefits of allergy immunotherapy depend on:

For instance, at Petoskey ENT Specialists, we may recommend immunotherapy for individuals who cannot avoid a potential encounter with their allergens, such as a professional landscaper or avid gardener with a bee sting allergy.

We may also recommend immunotherapy if you experience significant side effects from allergy medications or have year-round allergies and would like to reduce your reliance on daily medications.   

Is allergy immunotherapy safe?

Because immunotherapy is based on exposing your system to slowly increasing doses of your specific allergen(s), it must be administered under a specialist’s supervision to avoid dangerous side effects. 

Immunotherapy is otherwise considered a safe and effective treatment for most allergy sufferers. You can expect close monitoring and follow-up throughout your immunotherapy treatments with us.

The basics of immunotherapy treatment

After our ENT allergy specialist accurately identifies your allergen(s) with skin testing, the treatment can begin. Timing can vary from individual to individual, but standard allergy immunotherapy includes a build-up phase, during which ever increasing amounts of the allergen(s) are injected weekly. This phase of treatment can take 3-6 months to complete.

Once you’ve reached your target dose during the build-up phase, you enter the maintenance phase of allergy immunotherapy. During this time, the frequency of your injections will gradually decrease to about once every four weeks.

Schedule a visit at Petoskey Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists today to learn more about immunotherapy and whether it’s right for you. Call our office or request an appointment online.

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