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Allergy Shots Are Effective Treatment for Symptoms

Immunotherapy works for allergic asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis or insect bites

SATURDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- If you have allergic asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis or stinging insect allergies, you may be a good candidate for allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy.

That's the recommendation of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

"Immunotherapy is a form of treatment that aims to decrease sensitivity to substances called allergens," Dr. Linda Cox, chair of the AAAAI's Immunotherapy and Allergy Diagnostics Committee, said in a prepared statement.

"Allergens, like pollen, mold or animal dander, are substances that trigger allergy symptoms when an allergic person is exposed to them. Patients who receive immunotherapy are injected with increasing amounts of an allergen until the target therapeutic dose is reached, in an effort to build resistance to specific allergens," Cox explained.

She said relief of allergy symptoms can last long after completion of treatment and that immunotherapy helps prevent the development of new allergies and may prevent the progression of allergic rhinitis to asthma.

Immunotherapy involves injections of gradually increasing doses of a particular allergen. Your body responds by developing immunity or tolerance to the allergen, resulting in decreased symptoms when you're exposed to the allergen.

While immunotherapy is recommended for people with allergic asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and stinging insect allergies, it's not recommended for those with food allergies, the AAAAI said. The best option for people with food allergies is to avoid foods that pose a danger.

The AAAAI says people should see a doctor about immunotherapy if they:

  • Have a clear relationship between asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and exposure to an allergen,
  • Have a poor response to allergy medication or avoidance measures,
  • Have a long duration of allergy symptoms (most of the year),
  • Are a child with rhinitis, because of the potential role of allergen immunotherapy in the progression of allergic disease.

More information

To learn more, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, January 2008

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