Allergen immunotherapy, also known as desensitization, is a medical treatment for allergies such as nasal allergy, asthma, food allergies and insect bites with severe reactions. Immunotherapy involves administering gradually increasing doses of the allergen (substance to which the child is allergic). The slowly increasing doses of the allergen causes the immune system to become less sensitive to the allergen. This leads to reduction in the severity of the disease and hence less need for medicines. In some children the disease gets cured and the child gets totally off medicines.
How do I know to what my child is allergic?
The first step for immunotherapy is to identify the relevant allergens which are leading to child’s allergy symptoms. This can be done in two ways.
- Skin Prick Test (SPT)
- Blood allergy tests or Serum Specific IgE using ImmunoCap
What are the most common allergens?
These allergens could be Aeroallergens or allergens which are present in the child’s environment (home, school or outside environment) or food allergens.
- What are the common aeroallergens?
The common indoor allergens are dust mites, moulds or fungus, cockroach, cat and dog dander.
The most common outdoor allergens are pollens of trees, weeds and grasses.
- What are the common food allergens?
While any food can cause food allergy in children, most food allergy reactions are caused by eight types of common including: Eggs, Milk, Peanuts, Tree nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Wheat and Soy
What the different ways in which Immunotherapy can be given?
Immunotherapy can be given in two forms
- Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (SCIT): Subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) is a form of immunotherapy, whereby small gradually increasing doses of specific allergens are given by subcutaneous injections. These are also called as “allergy shot”.
- Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT): Sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy is an alternative way to treat allergies without injections. Drops or tablets used under the tongue increase tolerance to the allergen the allergic and reduce symptoms.