Allergies are a common ailment in the U.S., with more than 100 million Americans experiencing some type of allergy each year and roughly one in four Americans suffering from a seasonal allergy. They occur when the immune system recognizes a foreign substance in the body, considers it harmful and overreacts to it. Whether the foreign substance (known as an allergen) is eaten, inhaled, injected into the body or touched, the allergic reaction it causes can bring on symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, rashes, hives, itchy eyes, a runny nose and/or a scratchy throat. And in severe cases, allergies can lead to much more concerning — and sometimes even deadly — symptoms such as asthma attacks, breathing difficulties and low blood pressure. Allergies can’t be cured, but with the right treatment and precautions, they can often be kept under control.
What is immunotherapy?
Also known as allergy shots, immunotherapy is a long-term, preventive treatment option that can help reduce patients’ allergic reactions to common allergens such as:
- tree, grass and weed pollens, which can cause seasonal allergies
- indoor allergens such as dust mites, cockroaches, mold and pet dander
Immunotherapy sees patients get a series of shots over time, typically over a period of three to five years, in an effort to prevent or reduce the severity of allergic reactions. The injections consist of initially small, but increasingly larger, doses of the allergens to which the patient experiences allergic reactions.
How can immunotherapy help your allergies?
The small doses of allergens injected during immunotherapy are enough to stimulate the immune system, but not enough to trigger a full-blown allergic reaction. Over time, the increasingly larger doses help to desensitize the patient’s immune system to the allergen(s) administered, eventually creating “blocking” antibodies for and a heightened tolerance to the allergen(s) — and reducing the likelihood and severity of future allergic reactions.
Why see an ENT for your allergy care?
Often, it can be a challenge for patients to know whether a sinus issue is being caused by an allergy, an infection or some sort of structural problem. ENT physicians are highly trained in all of these areas, so a visit to one of these providers can help you determine what’s causing your problems — and no matter what it is, get it addressed. ENT providers can diagnose allergies and provide immunotherapy treatment, as well as help with infections and/or structural problems if either is found to be causing your symptoms.
Need TRUE Care for your allergies? Wilmington Health has you covered
The specialists in the Wilmington Health Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Department deliver convenient, compassionate care to patients of all ages. Our ENT physicians are certified in the medical and surgical management and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck — including Allergy Care and Immunotherapy.
To schedule an appointment with a Wilmington Health provider, contact the ENT Department today.