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What is Immunotherapy, and Can it Cure My Allergies?

How do you know when spring has finally arrived? Perhaps it’s when the first flowers start to bloom, or the day when you move your coats to the back of the closet. Unfortunately, many people know spring has really arrived when their nose starts running and their eyes start itching.

But what if allergies didn’t have to be a harbinger of spring? Even better, what if you could eliminate your non-seasonal allergies, like those to certain foods or pet dander? With immunotherapy, you now have the ability to severely alleviate or cure your allergies. 

If you’re tired of allergies holding you back, come see us at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care. James Y. Lee, DO, and the rest of our team will make sure you receive excellent care. Dr. Lee is board-certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and is proud to offer a holistic, patient-focused approach to medical care. He’ll work with you to lessen your allergy symptoms and eventually cure them. 

What are allergies?

Allergies occur when your immune system mistakes a nonthreatening foreign substance, like pollen, a bee sting, or food, as a potential threat to your health. These substances are called allergens. To protect you, your body produces antibodies to suppress the hypothetically harmful allergen. When the antibodies and allergen interact, you experience allergy symptoms.

Allergy symptoms

Common allergy symptoms differ between seasonal allergies and those associated with food and insect stings. Seasonal allergy symptoms include: 

 Allergic reactions associated with food and insect stings include:

What are you allergic to?

Common allergens include:

 Allergies and tolerance to substances can change as you age. Some children grow out of allergies, while adults may develop allergies after decades without any issues.

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy, which takes the form of allergy shots, is a preventive treatment used to train your body to become less allergic to a substance. During immunotherapy sessions, Dr. Lee uses a series of injections of diluted amounts of your known allergens. The immunotherapy makes your body increasingly less sensitive to the allergen until it is no longer seen as a threat. Although immunotherapy isn’t guaranteed to cure your allergies, it should at least severely diminish their effects to the point that you no longer notice them.

What should I consider before starting immunotherapy?

Dr. Lee works with you to determine whether immunotherapy is right for you. Allergy shots are typically recommended for patients with some of the following characteristics: 

Immunotherapy does not work for food allergies; your best option is to avoid the foods you’re allergic to and carry an EpiPen® if necessary.

The immunotherapy process

Immunotherapy can generally be broken into two phases: build-up and maintenance. You start receiving the shots and building immunity during the build-up phase. The shots occur once or twice per week, and the level of allergens in the shots increases over time. This period usually lasts 3-6 months.

Once the maintenance phase begins, you have reached the effective dose and have less severe reactions to your allergens. Maintenance treatment generally continues for 3-5 years, with treatments every 2-4 weeks. 

Don’t let allergies get you down. The team at Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care can help. Call the Woodstock, Georgia, office at 770-927-8273 or book an appointment online today. You can also send a message to Dr. Lee and the team here on the website.

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