Nearly one-third of Americans suffer from some sort of seasonal allergies. Many do not have to suffer, however. Allergy shots can help such patients to lessen and in some cases eliminate symptoms with only the most minor discomfort and side effects. While for many oral medications are still preferable, here is a look at how rush immunotherapy works, who can benefit and what options are available.
What Is Immunotherapy?
Rush immunotherapy is an accelerated protocol for undergoing allergy shots. These shots each contain trace amounts of allergens that affect a patient. The graduated administration of these allergens, over time, eventually helps patients to overcome these symptoms by building up their body’s tolerance. Patients who, for example, have a potentially life-threatening sensitivity to stinging insects can receive allergy shots which gradually increase their tolerance to venom, so that the body no longer reacts so violently to them.
Who is a Good Candidate?
Any allergy patient who is not able to control their symptoms through medication, or who suffers from severe side effects from their medication, can benefit from allergy shots. In addition, some patients have allergies that they cannot avoid, such as pollen, animal dander or even dust mites. With these patients, constant medication can be a problem and so allergy shots can help their symptoms. Age is generally not a consideration when it comes to immunotherapy. Except at the extremes of age, just about anyone who has been diagnosed with allergies can receive shots for potential desensitization.
What is involved?
In most cases, a course of allergy shots involves a regimen that begins small and builds up gradually. This means that the initial shots will contain a very minute dose of the allergen in question, with each additional visit increasing the dosage over a period of months to even years, until the patient’s body is able to tolerate the presence of the allergen.
With rush immunotherapy, however, the process occurs over several days to weeks. Patients receive a new dose every hour under strict observation from a doctor. For patients with insect allergies this can be particularly beneficial, as an insect sting can happen at any time without warning. In addition, insect allergies can suddenly appear in patients who have never had them before, making them particularly dangerous.
The most common side effect to allergy shots are redness and swelling where the injection occurs, which tends to decrease as your body builds up tolerance. While more severe reactions are rare, the patient must remain under close observation by the allergist for at least 30 minutes in the event of any more severe side effects.
The most vital thing for patients is to be properly diagnosed for their allergies. Proper diagnosis allows the right course of treatment to be developed, taking into account all factors such as allergy season, severity of symptoms and medication efficacy. If you think you might have allergies and be a candidate for rush immunotherapy, give us a call for an appointment today.