Getting allergy tested.
Allergen immunotherapy is an attempt to deactivate the cause of hayfever from within.
Can anyone get immunotherapy?
This relatively rare treatment applies mainly to the most serious of hayfever sufferers, whose quality of life is dramatically affected by their hayfever, and for whom allergic rhinitis medication is proving ineffective.
How is immunotherapy administered?
Ordinarily immunotherapy injections take place over a period of 2 to 3 years, with tiny amounts of allergen extracts are injected on a regular basis – usually once per week in the beginning.
It can also be administered in the form of drops placed under the tongue.
Results are not guaranteed, and it can take up to six months before any improvement in symptoms results from treatment.
Are there any side-effects?
The most common side-effect of hayfever injections is injection site swelling.
Anaphylaxis is also a possibility, hence why patients remain at the medical establishment for up to an hour after receiving injections, and are instructed to not exercise for several hours.
People who are NOT exposed to pets in the first year of their life have a greater risk of having hayfever, and also asthma 1. Interestingly too, being an only child increases the risk of allergies in later life as well. Having siblings appears to aid immunity.
Steroid injections are no longer a common treatment for severe hayfever. They have mostly taken the form of once-off “depot” injections that can last the duration of the average allergy season, as the steroid is gradually released over time.
However, should any side-effects occur there is no way to remove the insult to the body.
A more modern version of steroid injection known as has been effective for some, yet not for others due to side effects including nosebleeds, persistent coughing, headaches, and in some rare cases anaphylaxis.
Steroid injections are usually a third, fourth, and most often the final treatment option for multiple reasons.
Having reduced immunity for a considerable period increases the risk of infectious diseases such as shingles and chickenpox.
Even the common cold can become a serious threat to one’s health.
Caution is also needed in the case of diabetics, elderly people, children, expectant or breastfeeding mothers, as well as anyone who may have heart disease, bowel disease, liver disease, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease or higher than average blood pressure.
- Hesselmar B et al. Does early exposure to cat or dog protect against later allergy development? Clin Exp Allergy 1999; 29: 611-7