Benefits of Immunotherapy

Injection Desensitisation in Allergy

Only two specific treatments are available to the allergic patient – allergen avoidance and allergen-specific immunotherapy (SIT). Medication although useful, will only suppress symptoms but do little to modify the long-term disease process. When one considers the expense of long term allergy medication, immunotherapy must be viewed as a cost-effective treatment option.

Who will benefit from allergen immunotherapy?

The ideal candidate is an allergic person who is unable to avoid the offending allergen in daily life and in whom drug therapy has failed to control the allergy or in whom drug side-effects have become intolerable. Most allergy sufferers in Canada will benefit from this excellent treatment.

Who should not receive immunotherapy?

The procedure is generally not used in those under 5 years of age or patients with coronary heart disease. The patient should also not be wheezing at the commencement of therapy. Immunotherapy should also be avoided for those who are; pregnant, have chronic uncontrolled asthma, and food allergy. It has been shown that immunotherapy may modify the natural history of asthma and may even prevent asthma in allergen sensitized children.

How is allergy skin testing performed?

The intention is to introduce a very small volume of extract of a potential allergen into the epidermis. In addition, a positive control of histamine and a negative control of saline must be done. If the patient is allergic, he/she will notice itching within about two minute, followed by erythema (flare), and then a wheal, which expands progressionally between five and 20 minutes after testing.

Find an Allergist

An allergist/immunologist is a physician specially trained to manage and treat allergies and asthma. Becoming an allergist/immunologist requires completion of at least nine years of training. After completing medical school and graduating with a medical degree, a physician will then undergo three years of training in internal medicine (to become an internist) or paediatrics (to become a paediatrician). Once physicians have finished training in one of these specialties, Internists or paediatricians who wish to focus on the subspecialty of allergy/immunology then complete at least an additional two years of study, called a fellowship, in an allergy/immunology training program. Allergist/immunologists who are certified have successfully passed the certifying examination of the Canadian Board of Allergy and Immunology, following their fellowship.

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