Desensitization to treat allergies: the hope for a long-lasting relief

In severe cases, allergies can be a total nightmare. For individuals who suffer from persistent allergy symptoms however, desensitization could offer the hope of achieving long-lasting relief.

In severe cases, allergies can be a total nightmare. For individuals who suffer from persistent allergy symptoms however, desensitization could offer the hope of achieving long-lasting relief. This technique consists in regularly injecting increasing doses of allergens in a person suffering from a specific allergy to attenuate or suppress their allergic reaction. This however, requires a lot of patience on the part of the sufferer, as a truly effective treatment will often require regular injections over a period of three to five years.

Desensitization is a form of treatment called immunotherapy. Each injection contains minute amounts of specific allergens, the substances that trigger an allergic reaction. These injections contain just enough allergens to stimulate the immune system, but not enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Over time, the allergist increases the concentration of allergens with each injection. This helps the body become accustomed (desensitized) to the specific allergens. In time, the immune system will build up a tolerance to the allergens, ultimately resulting in decreased allergy symptoms.

Desensitization is often used to control the symptoms caused by seasonal allergies (trees, pollen, etc.), allergies to indoor allergens (dust mites, dust, mould, pet dander, etc.) and insect bites. However, desensitization does not work for people who suffer from food allergies or chronic hives (urticaria).

Allergy symptoms will not disappear instantly, but they usually diminish during the first year of treatment, with even greater improvement during the second year. Most individuals are desensitized after three years of treatment. After that, certain individuals will remain desensitized once the treatment ends, while others will require regular injections (maintenance treatment) to keep allergy symptoms from recurring.

Although this winter seems interminable, spring will soon be here, and along with it, the return of seasonal allergies for many unfortunate people. Are you are tired of having to contend with allergy symptoms each and every year? Consult your physician or allergist. Immunotherapy is perhaps a viable option to treat your allergies!

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