When it’s either Fluffy the cat or other allergies, consider immunotherapy

Bee stings—we’d like to avoid them but we get stung anyway from time to time. And, in the case of Fluffy the cat—breaking up with a member of the family may be unfathomable.

The most basic treatment for allergies is to remove the allergen from your environment. But that’s not often possible. Allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust mites are microscopic and not completely avoidable.

Immunotherapy refers to a process of desensitization to allergens such as bee stings, pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold. The traditional delivery system for this desensitization process is through allergy shots. (Allergy shots are not recommended in the treatment of food, drug, and latex allergies.)

You might consider immunotherapy if allergy medicines don’t work well for you, and / or if you want to decrease long term allergy medication use.

Immunotherapy helps your body get used to what it is allergic to in order to minimize your symptoms and the frequency and magnitude of your allergic reactions.

At the beginning of the process, you will get injections more regularly—perhaps once or twice a week for several months.Your doctor will administer a tiny amount of the substance you are allergic to, via a shot in the arm.

Over time, your doctor will gradually increase the amount of the allergen you receive. Eventually, you will reach the point where you receive maintenance doses.  After that, you receive periodic shots with longer intervals between shots for a set period of time.

Depending on the nature of your allergy and the severity of your symptoms, you can ultimately expect to receive a shot per month over the course of several years.

Your allergy symptoms will get better and may even go away. If your symptoms don’t improve over a year of treatment, your doctor will work with you to consider other options.

After Immunotherapy Treatment

After you receive your allergy shot, you will be asked to wait at your doctor’s office for 30 minutes. This is to monitor for signs of allergic reactions. If you develop these symptoms you should return to your doctor’s office or go to the nearest emergency room.

Working With Your Doctor 

When working with your doctor to create a treatment plan, it is always important to share complete information with your doctor.

Your doctor will want to know the following:

  • Any medications or herbal supplements you are taking
  • Whether you are pregnant, or plan to get pregnant
  • Whether you are dealing with heart or lung disorders
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