How to Get Rid of Allergies?
Allergies are a menace in the United States right now. More than half the population suffer from one or more allergies. It is an auto immune response of the body and is manageable and preventable. However, they can be eliminated only through what is known as Allergen Immunotherapy or Allergy Shots. If treated right, one can get rid of allergies and the discomfort, pain and irritation associated with it for good.
The different methods of managing allergies would include the use of antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids etc.
Before we move on to discussing how allergies can be dealt with, let us have a look at the mechanism which is involved in allergies.
What is the mechanism that works behind allergies?
The immune system in the body is hypersensitive to certain proteins in food and elements in the environment. The immune system reacts by producing antibodies Immunoglobulin E (IgE) which in turn triggers the mast cells in the skin, pharynx and gut to release histamine. Histamine is a chemical which causes the adverse physical reactions in the body. This is the IgE mediated response in allergies.
Sometimes without the formation of the said antibodies the body reacts to certain chemicals, irritants and substances in the environment. A host of physical reactions are generally experienced in that case too.
What are Allergy shots?
It is a form of immunotherapy used in allergies where the patient is vaccinated with very small doses of the allergen itself. Progressively the dose is increased. The idea is to increase the immunologic tolerance in the individual. It is the only treatment that targets the root cause and eliminates it successfully and helps to get rid of allergies.
What is the mechanism in which Allergen immunotherapy works and helps us to get rid of allergies for good?
It is thought that normally all individuals can tolerate minute amounts of the allergen safely without any reaction. In immunotherapy minute doses are repeated and the immune system is gradually trained to tolerate the exposure. It is generally administered as a subcutaneous injection under the skin.
The immune system gradually undergoes a modification. It starts producing IgE blocking antibodies and thus reduces the adverse response to the allergen. It also increases Th2 in the regulatory T cells. Th2 helps in preventing the histamine being released.
This mechanism is also known as Desensitisation.
Are you ready for allergen immunotherapy?
You know that you are ready for allergen immunotherapy if you have the following conditions:
- If you have allergies throughout the year.
- If you are unable to avoid the allergens.
- If your allergy medications do not provide relief.
- If you bear unable to bear the side effects of medications.
- If you want long term relief from allergies.
How are allergy shots administered?
Allergy shots are administered either sublingually (under the tongue) or injected subcutaneously. They should be ideally given 2-4 months prior to the allergy season. These shots are given in the following phases.
Build Up Phase:
Allergy shots are given for 3 to 7 months, 1 to 3 shots every week. For each shot the amount of allergen is gradually increased. This would make the body desensitized to the allergen.
After the build up phase, this phase lasts about 3 to 5 years or more. You would need to get the shots once every month. As you take allergy shots the symptoms are going to get milder. And it is possible that in a couple of years you would be symptom free.
Benefits of Allergen Immunotherapy
- It is the most effective against allergens such as pollen, dust and animal dander allergies. It helps tremendously with asthma and allergic rhinitis symptoms.
- It helps to manage anaphylaxis symptoms especially when stung by insects, bees and wasps. The individual could be very well protected from allergic reactions caused by future stings.
- It is a long term solution and massively improves quality of life.
- It reduces the need of medicines and brings down the severity of symptoms.
- It is a cost effective treatment.
Side Effects of Allergy Shots
- Itchiness, swelling and redness at the site of the injection.
- Systemic reactions like pruritus or itching, upper airway itchiness, coughs or shortness of breath may occur. These can be managed with a shot of epinephrine . Pre medication with antihistamines or corticosteroids can reduce the systemic reaction.
- Hives and anaphylaxis sometimes occur. Hence, it is important that the therapy be given under medical supervision.
- In the sublingual therapy where the allergen is introduced under the tongue reactions like headache, conjunctivitis, cough, asthma, pharyngitis, nasal congestion and rhinitis can occur.
The above reactions seldom get out of hand and can be well managed with advice from the physician. Inspite of the above reactions, allergen immunotherapy is the only solution available to get rid of allergies for ever.