Specific immunotherapy is the closest thing to a cure that we have. Another name we use for this is allergen immunotherapy.
It involves the regular use of sublingual drops which are placed under the tongue, of gradually increasing doses of the allergen extracts.
It is a long term plan spanning 3-5 years so it requires commitment and cooperation with your allergist to achieve the desired results.
Specific immunotherapy effectively ‘switches off’ the allergy because it changes the way the immune system reacts to the allergens. The goal is that you become immune to the allergen so you can tolerate them or have very few symptoms.
Testing for Allergies
The first step we take is to confirm your allergies and we do this through a full allergic workup and testing. We will request specific blood tests looking for allergen specific IgE for you, as well as performing a skin prick test or skin scratch test. A small drop of the purified allergen is introduced to the small break in the skin. This is performed on the forearm.
Some of the common allergens we test for in the skin prick test are:
- house dust mite
- cat and dog dander
- mould spores
- pollen from a range of grasses, weeds and trees
We will then closely observe you and any reaction you may have to the allergens. We are looking for a wheals and flare reaction. A wheal is a small itchy lump and which is surrounded by a red flare. This takes about 15-20 minutes.
Once we have your results, we can make up a vial of drops that is specific to you and your allergies.
These drops are taken daily under the tongue where they are rapidly absorbed into your system.
Over time, the dosage is gradually increased which gives your body a chance to slowly build up an immunity to the allergens.
Specific immunotherapy or sublingual immunotherapy is a very safe treatment for both adults and children and has a very high success rate if the treatment is committed to, and followed through with – as recommended by us.