What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is one of the courses of treatment we offer to people with allergy. The treatment can be administered in collaboration with your general practitioner.
The treatment consists of a series of vaccinations with the allergen that is causing your allergy symptoms. The treatment principle is that you receive very small doses of the allergen at first and then the doses are gradually increased to force your body to build tolerance, thereby reducing the severity of your allergic symptoms.
Many clinical studies have proven the effectiveness of this treatment in relation to certain allergic conditions. The treatment effect emerges slowly but will rarely eradicate all symptoms.
It is important that you only decrease your regular allergy medication doses in agreement with the Allergy Clinic physicians.
Tests prior to treatment
Prior to starting your treatment, it is important to ensure that the allergen we will be using for your vaccinations is the primary cause of your condition. In addition to tests such as skin prick tests and blood tests, we may perform an eye challenge test to assess the sensitivity of your mucosae. A lung function test may also be performed.
Following these tests, you and your physician will make a plan for your further treatment.
How is the treatment given?
The treatment has two stages:
- Maintenance (the dose that will be used for the remainder of the treatment period).
Updosing comprises weekly injections in increasing doses for 8-10 weeks. During the first treatment visit, you will get three injections, 30 minutes apart. During the subsequent visits, you will get one injection per visit.
During updosing, you will be required to take antihistamines 1-2 hours prior to the planned injection. Your physician will provide you withan antihistamine prescription.
After 8 or 9 weeks of treatment, most patients will have reached their maintenance dose. Following this point, the interval between injectionsis gradually increased to two months.
The treatment must continue for 5 years (6 injections per year) in order to achieve a long-term effect and ensure effectiveness once the vaccinations are terminated. Updosing is carried out at the Allergy Clinic. The maintenance treatment may be administered by your general practitioner.
During the treatment, particularly during updosing, there is a small risk that you will experience allergy symptoms.
Hence, you should stay in the clinic for 30 minutes following each vaccination and you may not leave until the injection site on your arm has been checked.
Patients with asthma and hay fever are required to undergo a peak flow test before and after each vaccination.
In the first 24 hours after the injection, you are required to make a note of any injection site swelling and/or other discomforts if relevant.
After you have left the clinic, it is important that you immediately take an antihistamine tablet should you become unwell and/or if you experience allergy symptoms such as hay fever, skin itching, or urticaria on other parts of your body besides the injection site. If the tablet does not take effect after 30 minutes, you must seek medical attention or go to the emergency room and inform them that you have had an allergy vaccination.
The injections will not be administered if you have had an infection (such as a cold or the flu) or worsening allergy symptoms within the past three days.
Alcohol is not allowed up to 8 hours before a vaccination as alcohol increases the risk of side effects.
Following the vaccination, physically challenging sports or other forms of hard physical activities are also not recommended (as they could increase the risk of allergy symptoms).
Once a year, we assess the therapeutic schedule and the effectiveness of your treatment.
If you become ill or cannot keep your appointment regardless of the reason, please call the clinic and re-schedule your appointment.
Where can I find more information?