Inspired by one of our favorite television shows, Allergy Myth Busters looks at a number of popularly held beliefs about allergy. But are these myths just urban legends or are they true?
MYTH: All immunotherapy is the same
THE BACKGROUND: Immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots) is an effective treatment for allergic nasal and eye symptoms (allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis), allergic asthma, and eczema. Immunotherapy can also be used to treat stinging insect allergies. Small amounts of the allergen (the substance that patients are allergic to) are injected in regular intervals over several years to desensitize patients to those substances. Immunotherapy is designed to alleviate current symptoms as well as prevent the progression of allergic disease. Relief of symptoms also continues after allergy shots are stopped making it a cost effective and beneficial treatment for many allergy sufferers. Several people and even physicians believe that all immunotherapy is the same.
THE SCIENCE: Not all allergen immunotherapy is created equally.
Allergy testing identifies specific allergies in each patient. Small amounts of these allergens are then combined to make allergy shots. Immunotherapy is tailored specifically for each patient based on their degree of allergies and underlying disease. Current medications and other coexisting diseases should also be taken into account when formulating the strength of these extracts. If the dose of allergen included in the allergy shots is too weak, the patient will not mount an effective or long lasting immune response. If the dose of allergen in the allergy shots is too strong, the patient will have increased risk of an allergic reaction or adverse reaction to the shots.
Board certified allergists are specialists who have performed the highest level of education based on national standards for the field of allergy and immunology. They are extensively trained on doses and concentrations of allergens that are the most effective and safe. They are also trained on specific allergens that are more prominent in their local area and are aware of any cross reactivity between allergens that might affect your treatment response. Here at Allergy Partners, our providers have many years of experience in formulating allergen immunotherapy, and our immunotherapy program is the nation’s largest. Our physicians continuously review studies and safety data to determine the most up to date recommendations on the safest and most effective allergen dosing for allergy shots.
THE VERDICT: The Myth that all allergen immunotherapy is the same has been busted.
Ingrid Hoffmann, MD
Allergy Partners of the Piedmont