Allergy immunotherapy, also known as allergen immunotherapy, is a treatment approach used to reduce the symptoms and severity of certain allergies.
The primary goal of allergy immunotherapy is to desensitize the immune system to specific allergens. By gradually exposing the immune system to small amounts of the allergen, the immune response is modified, leading to a reduction in allergic symptoms.
Allergy immunotherapy is commonly used for allergic rhinitis caused by allergens such as pollen, dust mites, or animal dander. It can also be effective for certain cases of allergic asthma caused by allergens like dust mites or pollen. Oral food immunotherapy can be used to treat certain food allergies in children.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) involves placing drops or tablets containing allergen extracts under the tongue. The allergens are absorbed through the mucosa under the tongue, where they interact with the immune system to induce tolerance.
Mechanism of Action
SLIT works by gradually exposing the immune system to small amounts of the allergen, stimulating the production of specific antibodies that promote immune tolerance. Over time, this can lead to a reduction in allergic symptoms when exposed to the allergen in everyday life.
It’s important to note that drug desensitization does not provide a permanent cure for a drug allergy. Once the desensitization process is completed, the person must continue taking the medication regularly to maintain tolerance. If the medication is stopped for an extended period, the person may lose their tolerance and become allergic to it again.
SLIT has been shown to be effective in reducing the severity of allergic symptoms and the need for other allergy medications. It can provide long-term benefits even after the treatment is completed. However, the response to SLIT can vary between individuals, and it may not be effective for everyone.
SLIT is generally considered safe, with a lower risk of severe allergic reactions compared to allergy shots. However, some individuals may experience mild side effects such as itching or swelling in the mouth or throat.
Consultation with Healthcare Professionals
SLIT should be prescribed and supervised by an allergist or immunologist. They will evaluate your specific allergies, medical history, and overall health to determine if SLIT is appropriate for you. They will also discuss the potential risks and benefits of the treatment.