Are there any contraindications to allergy Immunotherapy?
If you are using beta-blocker medications caution must be employed when giving allergy shots, even though there is no strict contraindication. Beta-blockers are medications commonly used to control high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems (cardiac dysrhythmia) and migraine headaches. Common names include: Betagen, Blocadren, Corgard, Inderal, Lopressor, Nordyne, Sectral, Tenoretic, Tenormin, Timpotic, Propranolol, and Visken. (This is not a complete list, so ask your doctor or nurse.) Also, patients with severe asthma are often not good candidates for this therapy.
Can I receive my injections other than at the office?
Allergy Immunotherapy must be administered under direct supervision of trained medical personnel who can make proper judgments regarding dosage and be prepared to treat potentially serious reactions.
How effective is Immunotherapy?
Many scientific studies, published in medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, have proven the effectiveness of Immunotherapy for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) with approximately 80 – 90% of patients improving, often to the point of needing little or no medication. Response rates in asthma cases generally are lower, probably due to the fact that both non-allergic and allergic triggers for asthma are common.
Do I continue allergy medication while I am on Immunotherapy?
YES. It often takes 3 to 12 months before one notes improvement of allergy symptoms on Immunotherapy, and use of over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications are often needed.
How do you know what to put in my treatment mixture?
Your treatment mixture will be prepared based on your allergy skin test results. Common offenders include trees, grasses, ragweed, weeds, dust mite, venoms, animal dander and mold spores. Immunotherapy for foods is not currently recommended, as safety and effectiveness have not been shown in scientific studies.
What are the patient’s obligations while on Immunotherapy?
It is important for patients to be regular in their injection schedule and report all adverse reactions. Irregular attendance for allergy shots often means reducing the dose, or at times, restarting the entire process. These are very important in your overall medication management as well as your injection therapy.
It is also very important to notify the staff of any change in your medical condition in terms of your allergic symptoms or, especially, if you have been prescribed any new medications by another doctor.
What about pregnancy and Immunotherapy?
It is not known whether it is safe to advance the dose of Immunotherapy during pregnancy. However, women on maintenance therapy can very safely be continued on injections.
What are the side effects of Immunotherapy?
Some individuals who are on Immunotherapy report “immediate local reactions” at the site of the injection. These consist of local itching, redness and possibly a small hive. These usually begin within ten minutes and resolve in one to two hours. A few patients report “late reactions”, consisting of local swelling and soreness eight to twelve hours after injections.
Neither of these immediate or late reactions is serious but may produce some discomfort. As you return for shots each visit, the nurse will inquire how you are tolerating the injections, and you should inform her fully before your shots.
On rare occasions, patients may experience a “systemic” reaction, wherein they develop symptoms, such as sneezing, eye itching or tearing, hives, asthma, itching of throat, hands, feet, or potentially more serious problems, including shock. These serious reactions are fortunately extremely rare and are much less likely when the proper precautions are taken.
Because nearly all of these systemic reactions occur within twenty minutes after the injection, patients are required to wait twenty minutes after each shot before leaving the office. Other than local or rare systemic reactions, there are no other known adverse reactions to Immunotherapy.
How does Immunotherapy work?
The vaccine “teaches” the body’s immune system not to respond in an allergic manner to allergens. As the immune system is regularly exposed to the allergens through these injections, the body, in a sense, begins to ignore them. Scientific studies have proven that these vaccines stimulate the production of “blocking” antibodies by your immune system, but there are other, perhaps more important, effects of these injections on the immune system.
What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy, or allergen hyposensitization, is a treatment program designed to reduce allergic sensitivity to environmental substances (allergens) including pollen, dust mites, mold spores, insect venoms, animal dander, etc. The process consists of receiving injections from treatment mixtures containing extracts of the above agents. Injections begin once or twice weekly with weak solutions, advancing to shots of progressively stronger solutions. Most patients reach “maintenance”, or the most concentrated solutions at 5 – 6 months, at which time the injection frequency reduces to every two to four weeks, depending on how the patient is responding. Total duration of treatment varies, but most patients are treated for three to five years.
What happens during allergy treatment?
Allergy treatment at Naples Allergy Center involves learning your past medical history, talking with you about your allergy symptoms, comprehensive testing, and completing the Allergy Course. The Naples Allergy Center team has developed an extensive, comprehensive diagnostic system. Our E-PAP diagnostics are the result of years of experience in allergy treatment. Once your diagnostic has been completed you will being the Naples Allergy Center Allergy Course.
Why can’t I just see my internal medicine physician?
Board-certified allergists are the only doctors who have the specialized training and experience to determine the source of your suffering and help you find relief. Allergists understand the ins and outs of allergy testing, and have the capability to oversee what happens during and after test sample analysis. These skills are important because there are many variables that affect allergy test results. If these nuances are missed or wrongly interpreted by physicians who do not specialize in allergies and asthma, individuals may not get the best treatment to relieve their symptoms.
Allergy tests can also be misleading if administered by inexperienced practitioners. For example, and inexperienced doctor might order a broad panel of tests and interpret any level of reaction as allergies. Through E-PAP and advances in testing protocols we can make the correct treatment plan for your health.
Does medicine interfere with testing?
Some medicines do interfere with allergy skin tests. Our highly skilled medical staff can tell you if you have to change your medication before testing. In certain cases, skin tests may be avoided if it is impossible for a patients to stop a medication that interferes with the interpretation of the skin test. See our list of medications you must stop using before our skin test. Medications should not be stopped without consulting a healthcare provider.
Are there any side effects from diagnostic skin testing?
Allergy skin testing is safe, and adverse reactions are rare. The most common symptoms are itching and swelling of the skin where the tests are performed. In rare cases, a more serious reaction can occur. That is why our skin test are performed by our diagnostic specialist.
How much time will my E-PAP take?
Diagnostic skin testing is relatively fast. For both types of skin test positive reactions usually appear within 20 minutes. Full testing can take up to 60 minutes.
Are allergy tests painful?
Both types of skin tests involve little to no pain. Some positive reactions can cause mild, itchy red bumps which look and feel like mosquito bites. The itching and bumps are usually gone in just a few short minutes to hours.
Do I need to have an E-PAP done if I am already a patient?
Yes. Patients may develop allergic reactions to new or different allergens years after being treated for another type of allergy.
Why do I need skin testing, can’t I just tell you my symptoms?
While patient medical history and experience is an important aspect to our Allergy Course, diagnostic testing determines every possible allergy you may have a reaction to. We often find reactions to substances our patients did not previously know about. This scientific diagnosis helps us to remove any guesswork when providing our patients with the best possible outcomes in living with allergic disease. Testing helps customize and individualize your care.