Need to know

All about allergy immunotherapy

Allergy immunotherapy targets the root cause of your allergy
Allergy immunotherapy works by giving repeated doses of an allergen, thereby stimulating an immune response in the body which causes the patient to build up an immunological tolerance.

Immunotherapy works by stimulating your immune system so that it learns not to react to specific allergens. Over time, it actually modifies your allergy, offering long-term benefits that include a reduced need for symptomatic medication and may lower the risk of developing asthma.

But how does it actually work?

During treatment, you are given repeated tiny doses of an allergen, either as injections or as drops or tablets under the tongue. Through this repeated exposure, your body’s immune system gradually builds up a tolerance for the allergen, resulting in fewer symptoms when you encounter the allergen in the real world.

Controlling your body’s allergic response
In biological terms, what allergy immunotherapy encourages is known as immune deviation and immune tolerance.

Immune deviation is a process where the immune cells responsible for your allergic immune response are replaced by other immune cells which do not react in the same way.

Meanwhile, immune tolerance – your body’s ability to tolerate allergens without reacting – is induced by ‘regulatory immune cells’, which dial down your body’s allergic response.

Together, these processes result in the production of IgE-blocking antibodies, which partly neutralise the allergic immune response.

Disease-modifying effect
A unique benefit of allergy immunotherapy is that it can actually modify your allergic disease – something that does not happen with symptom-relieving medications.

Not only can allergy immunotherapy bring about a rapid reduction in symptoms and reduced use of symptom-relieving medication, its benefits can also continue long after the end of treatment through a sustained reduction in the need for symptomatic medication and a lower risk of developing asthma symptoms.

The biology of allergy

What is often classed as allergy can actually be the result of four different biological mechanisms in action. Learn all about them in this video.

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Last updated: 2019.07.05