Hypersensitivity Shots: An effective cure for hypersensitivity
Immunotherapy is a preventative treatment for hypersensitive responses to substances such as pollen grains, dust bugs and food allergens. An individual is given increasing doses of the substance or an allergen to which he/she is hypersensitive to. The incremental increase in the intake of the hypersensitivity causing substance can lead to the immune system to become less reactive to the substance, most likely by causing production of a “blocking” antibody, which leads to decreased hypersensitive indications when the substance is encountered in the future. Immunotherapy also leads to reduced inflammation that specifies rhinitis and asthma.
Before commencing the management, the general practitioner and patient should recognize trigger factors for hypersensitive manifestations. Blood tests are performed to confirm the specific allergens to which the person has antibodies. Immunotherapy is usually recommended only if the person seems to be selectively responsive to specific allergens.
Immunotherapy reduces the responsiveness to reactive allergens and sometimes lead to lasting relief of hypersensitivity manifestations even after treatment is stopped. This is a cost-effective, useful management approach for many people suffering from hypersensitivity.
Immunotherapy can be used to manage manifestation triggered by:
- Seasonal allergies: This is the type in which the patient has seasonal allergic asthma or hay fever manifestations; one may be allergic to pollens released by trees, grasses or weeds. For ragweed and grass allergies, an oral type of immunotherapy treatment can also be given.
- Indoor allergens: In this type one has year-round symptoms; one can be sensitive to indoor allergen substances, such as dust mites, cockroaches, mold, or dander from pets such as cats or dogs. Oral hypersensitivity shots are also available for dust mite hypersensitivity.
- Insect stings: Allergic reactions to insect stings can be triggered by bees, wasps, hornets or yellow jackets.
- Food allergens
Mechanism of action:
Hypersensitivity shots works on the same mechanism as vaccine. The body responds to injected amounts of a particular allergen, given in slowly raising doses, by developing immunity or tolerance to the allergen.
This includes two phases which are the following:
- Build-up phase. About one to two times per week increasing amount of the substances allergic to injections are given. The length generally ranges from three to six months depending upon how often injections are received.
- Maintenance phase. Once the effective dose is received, this phase is initiated. This phase is usually dependent upon on the level of allergen sensitivity and the response to the build-up phase. During this phase, there will be longer periods of time between treatments, ranging from two to four weeks. What range is best for the patient is decided by the allergist or immunologist.
Types of Immunotherapy:
- Hypersensitivity shots, also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT): These are the widely used and most successful form of hypersensitivity immunotherapy. To prevent the development of new hypersensitivities and asthma, this is the only treatment available that will bring the changes in the immune system.
- Hypersensitivity tablets are a form of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) that offer a way to treat certain hypersensitivities without shots. Like shots, tablets reduce the manifestations by building the body’s resistance to the effects of an allergen. Unlike shots, tablets only treat one type of allergen and thus do not prevent the development of new allergies and asthma.
- Hypersensitivity drops are another form of SLIT and work the same way as tablets. Drops are widely accepted and used in many countries around the world.
Where should these hypersensitive shots be given?
This type of treatment should be supervised by a specific physician in a clinic/facility equipped with proper staff and equipment to identify and treat adverse reactions to hypersensitivity injections. Preferably, it should be given in your allergist / immunologist’s office. If this is not possible, your allergist / immunologist should provide the supervising physician with comprehensive instructions about your hypersensitive shot treatments.
Are There Risks?
A typical reaction is redness and swelling at the injection site. This can happen immediately or several hours after the treatment. In some instances, manifestations includes increased hypersensitive manifestations such as sneezing, nasal congestion or hives.
Serious responses to hypersensitivity shots are rare. When they do occur, they require immediate medical attention. Indications of an anaphylactic response can include swelling in the throat, wheezing or chest tightness, nausea and dizziness. Most serious responses develop within 30 minutes of the hypersensitivity injections. This is why it is recommended to wait in your doctor’s office for at least 30 minutes after getting hypersensitivity shots.
ALLERGEN IMMUNOTHERAPY: STILL WORKING AFTER 100 YEARS
In 1911, both allergen immunotherapy and the electrical ignition system for cars were introduced. Although unrelated, these events share a common outcome. One paved the way for advances in transportation, the other led to advances in the treatment of allergies.
The earliest published successes for allergen immunotherapy were based on the work of two English scientists, Leonard Noon and John Freeman. Recognizing that pollen was the cause of hay fever, these scientists thought that they could induce immunity and tolerance by injecting hay fever patients with the pollen to which they were allergic.
This idea was based on the positive results of vaccines that produced protection against infectious disease such as small pox.
Over the years, we’ve learned much more about allergen immunotherapy including long-term benefits and what protocols are needed to make it very beneficial. Among the most important findings are that immunotherapy can provide long-term symptom relief for years after treatment is discontinued, and that it is a cost-effective approach to treating many allergies.
Research has demonstrated that hypersensitivity immunotherapy can be effective in treating:
- Allergic asthma
- Allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis
- Stinging insect hypersensitivity
- Atopic dermatitis