What is Immunotherapy?

Allergy Immunotherapy is the only type of allergy treatment that changes the immune system to become less allergic to an allergen. This can be considered more of a problem solver by “desensitizing” the immune system to the allergen as opposed to medications that only treat the symptoms.

Allergy shots have been given successfully by allergists over the past 100 years and have significantly improved over time with advances in allergy serum and protocols. It has proven to be successful for the treatment of Allergic Rhinitis and Conjunctivitis (nasal and eye allergies), Allergy Induced Asthma, Insect Allergy and Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema).

How?

Allergy immunotherapy induces tolerance to the immune system by giving low doses of the allergens initially then building up on these doses over time. This process desensitizes the allergens to the immune system and decreases the allergic symptoms when exposed to those allergens via the environment.

Why?

Allergy immunotherapy is for patients that prefer to decrease or avoid chronic allergy or asthma medications. Also for patients that have not been controlled with a variety of medications, allergy immunotherapy is typically much more effective.

Types of Immunotherapy:

Allergy Shots(also called SubCutaneous ImmunoTherapy or SCIT) has been shown to be the most effective way of allergy desensitization for the best symptoms relief.1 This requires allergy injections in a medical office. This therapy has been well studied and has long been approved by the FDA which allows for insurance coverage. When done by Board Certified Allergists this therapy has been shown to be very effective in symptom reduction. Allergy shots have also been shown to have sustained benefit (long term desensitization) in most patients for many years beyond treatment period.

 

Phoenix Allergist Allergy Injections

Allergy Drops (also called SubLingual ImmunoTherapy or SLIT) are administered under the tongue and has been shown to be effective for certain allergens. Studies show a wide range of results and moderate symptom reduction is possible in appropriate candidates. This has not yet been approved by the FDA but based on studies has been shown to be safe with rare chance of serious side effects. This can be done seasonally for symptom improvement but has not been adequately proven to have long term benefits after treatment.

Allergy Tablets: In 2014 the FDA approved sublingual (under the tongue) dissolvable tablets containing grass pollens and ragweed pollen separately. These tablets are used seasonally to reduce symptoms from grasses or ragweed and do not have the long term benefits compared to allergy shots. This is like Allergy Drops but does not include other potential allergens contributing to symptoms. Studies have shown 20-30% reduction in symptoms on average over placebo.

Phoenix Allergist Allergy Tablets

What is right for me?

There are many options to manage patients with environmental allergies. Our Allergists will determine what is best in your individual case. Our physicians, board certified in Allergy and Immunology, utilize extensive training, years of clinical experience, and a wealth of knowledge to direct the most effective interventions for your immediate and long term care. The table below will help you better understand your options when you speak with your Allergist:

ShotsDrops Tablets
Expected reduction in symptoms Very Good Fair/Good Fair/Good
Location Given Doctor’s Office HomeHome
FDA Approved YesNoYes
Insurance Coverage YesNoNo
Which covers more allergens 1st2nd3rd
Long Term Benefits YesNoNo
Times of Year Used Perennial (whole year) Seasonal or Perennial Seasonal
Side Effects Local reactions on arms possible.
Systemic reactions uncommon
(0.1% chance)
Itchy mouth and throat possible.
Systemic reactions very uncommon.
Itchy mouth and throat possible.
Systemic reactions very uncommon.
Cost Depends on insurance coverage Approximately $110 per month Depends on insurance coverage

1Medical Literature Reference: Harold S. Nelson, MD; Subcutaneous Immunotherapy Verses Sublingual Immunotherapy: Which is More Effective? Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunotherapy, April 2014

If you would like to know if you are a candidate for Immunotherapy, please contact our nearest office to get more information.