Spring is finally here – and so are the allergies! Allergies happen when the body’s immune system overreacts to something that’s usually harmless, like dust, pollen, pets with fur or foods. If you or your children have allergies, prevention and treatment are key to avoiding symptoms and improving quality of life. Here are a few clinically effective options for treating allergies that you may not know about.
Traditional Allergy Shots
Allergy shots, also known as allergy immunotherapy, are an effective way to treat certain allergies. Injections given under the skin help the body build immunity to specific allergens and effectively decrease or prevent allergy and asthma symptoms altogether. Allergy shots also decrease long-term use of allergy and asthma medications and prevent new allergies from forming. Traditional allergy shots are given weekly, then eventually monthly, in a doctor’s office for three to five years or more.
Sublingual Immunotherapy Tablets (SLIT)
Sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy (SLIT) tablets offer another option for treating allergies without injections. Like allergy shots, they are a type of immunotherapy, because they change the immune system and naturally improve your allergy symptoms. After an initial dose in the doctor or allergist’s office, daily tablets are taken at home during pollen season, for three or more years.
Intralymphatic Immunotherapy (ILIT)
Intralymphatic immunotherapy (ILIT) is a new type of allergy shot being researched as a more convenient way of treating allergies. ILIT treatment consists of three injections, each given at least four weeks apart, into an inguinal (groin) lymph node. An ultrasound helps guide the doctor to make sure the injection is placed in the right location. Unlike traditional allergy shots or the tablets, ILIT is complete after only three injections.
Initial studies, done on adults in Europe, evaluated ILIT treatment for allergies to pollen (grass and tree) and cats. Results have shown the treatment to be safe, effective and tolerated well by adults.
In the first study of ILIT in pediatric patients, Nationwide Children’s Hospital recently evaluated the safety of ILIT in teens with grass pollen allergies. This study was the first to perform ILIT with allergen extracts that are commercially available in the U.S., and teen participants also tolerated the treatment remarkably well.
The image above can be used to see where the inguinal lymph nodes are located.
Researchers are still determining if other allergens can be treated with ILIT. Studies are also looking at how long the improvement of symptoms last after the treatments end. To learn more about ILIT treatment, talk to your allergist or request an appointment with one of our allergy specialists.
Amber M. Patterson, MD, works in the Section of Allergy and Immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. As a wife and mother of three, she is passionate about harnessing efficiency to create time. Dr. Patterson wants to teach her patients how to feel better quicker and stay healthy longer.
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