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Specific immunotherapy consists of the administration of injections with allergens, in increasing doses, in order to reduce the allergic person's sensitivity to these allergens.
Allergy is an overreaction of the immune system when the body is exposed to a substance that it understands to be a harmful agent. This is why some people are allergic to pet hair or dust mites, for example, while others are not. People who are more likely to suffer from allergies are those who have respiratory diseases such as asthma, rhinitis or sinusitis.
Thus, specific immunotherapy is a good treatment option for people with allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, allergic asthma, allergic reactions to insect sting venom, or other IgE-mediated hypersensitivity diseases.
What specific immunotherapy consists of
The allergy vaccine must be produced for each person, individually. It can be given as an injection or in drops under the tongue and contains increasing amounts of the allergen.
Allergens to be used in specific immunotherapy must be selected based on allergological tests, which allow for a qualitative and quantitative assessment of allergies. The doctor may order tests such as an allergic skin reaction test, a blood test called REST or Immunocap to find out exactly what the allergens are for that person. Learn how this test is performed.
The initial dose should be adapted to the person's sensitivity and then the doses should be progressively increased and given at regular intervals until a maintenance dose is reached.
Treatment time may vary from one person to another, because treatment is individualized. These injections are generally well tolerated and do not produce major side effects, and in some cases a rash and redness of the skin may occur.
Who can do the treatment
Immunotherapy is indicated for people who suffer from exaggerated allergic reactions that can be controlled. The most suitable people to perform this type of treatment are those who have respiratory allergies such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis, latex allergy, food allergies or reactions to insect bites, for example.
Who should not undergo treatment
Treatment should not be performed in people with corticosteroid-dependent asthma, severe atopic dermatitis, pregnant women, the elderly under 2 years and the elderly.
Furthermore, it is also not recommended for people with autoimmune diseases, severe psychological disorders, who use beta-adrenergic blockers, with non-IgE-mediated allergic disease and conditions at risk for the use of epinephrine.
Possible adverse reactions
Some of the effects that may occur during immunotherapy treatment, especially 30 minutes after receiving the injections are erythema, swelling and itching at the injection site, sneezing, coughing, diffuse erythema, hives and difficulty breathing.