Some people display allergies as a few light sniffles during the high pollen days of the spring. Others suffer miserably through the same period, and they may be sensitive to a wide range of pathogens like mold, pet dander, other seasonal pollens, and insect bites and stings.
Allergies result from a confused immune system response. Harmless substances set off a frenzied response in your body as though these were serious health threats. Complex allergies can distract you from your daily tasks and negatively impact your quality of life.
Immunotherapy, a two-part treatment process, may be your best option when dealing with a wide range of allergic responses. Dr. Scott Bateman of Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat specializes in treating allergies to reduce the symptoms you experience.
Immunotherapy for allergies
The first stage of treatment for allergies requires identification of the allergens to which you respond. Allergy testing can take several forms. The most common is a skin test. Revealing your sensitivity to a wide range of allergies, small amounts of allergen extracts penetrate tiny punctures made in your skin.
If your immune system reacts to an allergen, your skin responds with a small display within about 15 minutes, often a bump and redness that lasts a short time. Testing isn’t painful, and it effectively identifies multiple allergies in a single appointment.
The second part of immunotherapy treatment is often the allergy shot, the most common and most effective type of immunotherapy for allergies. Using the identified allergens as a basis, Dr. Bateman creates a formula suitable for subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.
You receive injections of this formula between one and three times a week during the build-up phase, through which the dosage increases over a three- to six-month period. After this, you reach the maintenance phase, usually reducing your injections to once a month. This phase can last up to five years. Many patients are no longer sensitive to treated allergens after three years.
An alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy delivers allergens under the tongue, a method called sublingual immunotherapy. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves the use of tablet forms of sublingual immunotherapy. Allergy drops are not yet FDA-approved.
Testing and shots work together to adjust your immune system response to allergens. While over-the-counter medicines don’t change your sensitivity, they can help you cope with allergy symptoms as the effects of allergy shots develop. Antihistamines and decongestants reduce common symptoms like itching, sneezing, congestion, and runny nose. Dr. Bateman may suggest corticosteroids for more stubborn nasal inflammation.
Get your allergies under control in consultation with our team at Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat. We provide care for both children and adults. You can schedule your visit by phone or online to start your journey toward allergy-free living. Book your appointment today.