What Is Immunotherapy?
Allergy immunotherapy is like a vaccine against allergens. By introducing small amounts of the allergen, just like in the case of a vaccine, we can help your body manage its reaction to that allergen. Over time, this increases your tolerance for the allergen and helps to provide immunity against it. This effect can last for years after stopping treatment, and other times it will help to continue treatment to get the best effect.
Oral immunotherapy is a treatment delivered orally by tablet or liquid. This makes it a convenient way to undergo allergen immunotherapy treatment, as it can be undertaken at home without the need for physician guidance. We will give you specific instructions for how often to take the tablets or liquid.
Initially, you will need to expose your body to a small dose of the allergen quite frequently. This will often mean introducing an allergen through oral treatment once to twice a week for about three to six months. However, after your body has built up immunity, you will only need to maintain that immunity, which will mean continuing exposure every two to four weeks for up to 12 months.
After this initial year of treatment, we will be able to determine whether oral immunotherapy is working well for you. You may find that you can stop treatment and continue to enjoy the effects of lessened responses to allergens for years to come. Others find it helpful to continue a maintenance treatment program for a few years. Either way, once treatment is finished, your body should keep a greater tolerance for the allergens for at least several years.
What Are the Benefits of Oral Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy can help you reclaim your life and enjoy the activities you once loved. It can help you get a better night’s sleep, allow you to enjoy the companionship of dogs and cats again, and enable you to literally stop and smell the flowers. It is also more effective, cheaper, and longer-lasting than over-the-counter allergy medications, working to fight allergies at their source rather than simply mask their symptoms.
Oral immunotherapy is an easy and convenient treatment favored by young children and busy adults. It’s as easy as taking a regular allergy pill but much more effective. Immunotherapy goes to the source of the problem, rather than treating the inflammatory response with antihistamines. We help the body to recognize and tolerate the allergens it reacts so strongly to, and thereby minimize or even prevent it from launching an immune response to those allergens.
Treats Common Allergens
The oral immunotherapy treatment option is a convenient and effective way to relieve most allergy symptoms. It is especially useful against grass and pollen allergies, animal dander, dust mites, and bee venom. The three FDA-approved immunotherapy tablets are Oralair, Grastek, and Ragwitek. These tablets are effective at managing grass pollen and ragweed pollen allergies. They are placed under the tongue and quickly dissolve. To get the best effect, it is advisable to take this treatment 12 weeks before grass allergy season.
Easy for Children to Take
If you have a child who suffers from allergies, oral treatment may be right for you. Tablets and liquids are an easy way to treat children who suffer from allergies. Especially in children under the age of six, quick-dissolving tablets are a no-fuss way to help them enjoy a carefree and sniffle-free childhood rolling around in the grass. Any method of immunotherapy treatment is advisable for children to prevent the development of asthma.
Perfect for a Busy Schedule
If you are just way too busy to consider going into the clinic for treatment every week, oral treatment could be perfect for you. No appointments, driving, or parking necessary. It’s just as easy as taking your usual allergy medications, but it works to just pop a pill twice a week and watch your allergies improve.
The Economical Option
Over time, immunotherapy is a much cheaper way to find relief from allergy suffering than over-the-counter medications. During and after your immunotherapy treatment, your need for allergy medications will decrease or completely come to a stop. You will probably experience several years after the treatment in which you experience little to no suffering from your allergies. Instead of spending more on less effective treatment, try immunotherapy to save money and improve your quality of life.
No Nasty Side-Effects
Many allergy medications come with side effects that make the allergies themselves almost preferable. You won’t have to worry about any of that with immunotherapy. It is a safe way to help your body use its natural defense systems to gradually recognize that your allergens are not threats. If allergy medications are no longer working for you, or cause too many side effects, oral immunotherapy is a much better alternative.
Prevents New Allergies From Developing
As we get older, we often find that we develop new allergies to things that used to be harmless to us. Our bodies are always in a state of alert for potentially dangerous environmental materials. This is especially the case for anyone who already has allergies. In these individuals, there is a heightened inflammatory response that can become increasingly sensitive to other potential allergens,
How Do I Know If Immunotherapy Will Work For Me?
Most environmental allergies can be managed and improved by allergen immunotherapy. However, some allergies are more easily managed and minimized through immunotherapy than others. To determine how immunotherapy can best help you and your unique allergies, come in for a consultation. We will let you know whether our treatments can help and which ones are most suitable for your situation. We will help you make a decision that is right for you.
Studies have shown that immunotherapy is 90% effective when the treatment is followed properly. That means an enormous reduction in allergy suffering, and the opportunity to live your life to the fullest. Maybe you have always wanted a cat but your allergies prevented it. With this treatment, your allergies may not always completely disappear, especially when severe. However, they will be so significantly reduced that you will find you have many more options for how you live your life.
A good way to determine whether you are a good candidate for immunotherapy treatments is to know exactly what you are allergic to. An allergy skin test or food test is a great way to get to know your body’s allergic responses. We can determine not only what allergens you respond to, but how severe the response is. If you have had allergy testing done in the past, sharing that information with us is extremely helpful.
Even if you have had allergy testing done before, it may be advisable to re-test for new allergies. We develop new allergies all the time, and you may have acquired more since your last test that you aren’t even aware of. Your allergic reaction to certain stimuli may also increase over time. Testing will help us get an accurate picture of your current allergic responses.
Preventing Asthma Development in Children
Beyond the discomfort of suffering from allergies, childhood allergy responses can cause the development of asthma. In children who suffer from allergies that go untreated, over 25% will develop asthma. This preventable condition could be with them for their entire lives, and can greatly impact their quality of life. Immunotherapy is extremely effective in giving children relief from their allergies and preventing asthma.
It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible for your child in order to prevent the complication of asthma. Schedule a time to come in for a consultation so that we can help you determine whether your child is a good candidate for immunotherapy treatment.
Before Your First Visit
We can’t wait to help you take your life back from your allergies! To make your consultation quick and easy, please print out and complete a few forms before your first scheduled appointment. Bring these along with you to help speed up the process.
Before an Allergy Test
If you have scheduled an allergy skin test or food challenge test, please make sure to refrain from using any antihistamines for at least 72 hours before your appointment. During the test, we will be testing for your body’s reactions to certain allergens. If you have anti-histamines influencing your normal allergic reaction, this will affect our ability to collect the most accurate and useful information for you.
Call ahead to find out if you are taking any medications that may interfere with the testing process too. We will let you know whether a certain medication should be stopped for a few days before your test. Some common medications that may interfere with testing include medication for stomach acid reduction, heartburn, oral steroids, and of course oral and nasal antihistamines.
It’s Time to Embrace the World Again
Immunotherapy is an easy and effective treatment that can help you reclaim your life. It works to fight the allergy response at the source by introducing the allergen in small doses. This treatment is incredibly effective at increasing your body’s tolerance for allergens and reducing suffering.
Oral immunotherapy is especially easy and convenient and can be taken in the comfort of your own home. Don’t let your allergies keep you from doing the things you once loved. Immunotherapy can help you reclaim your life and the foods, activities, and places that you used to enjoy. Visit Asthma Allergy Center in Portland, Oregon for a consultation today!