Immunotherapy has proven to be a cost-effective and productive treatment for the long-term relief of allergy symptoms. Most patients are able to discontinue, or greatly reduce, the need for ongoing allergy symptom medication. Immunotherapy has a success rate of over 80% for those patients who complete a therapy regimen.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is an allergy?
An allergen is a substance that causes an allergic reaction. The body defends itself against such substances, such as viruses or bacteria, but in some people the body will react to substances, such as animal dander, pollen, dust, or mold. It does this by producing antibodies. When antibodies are formed in the body and are launched to attack offending allergens, it may cause unpleasant and discomforting symptoms – what we call allergies.
Who can be tested?
Most patients over the age of 2-3 years can be tested.
What is immunotherapy and how does it work?
Allergen immunotherapy is a form of treatment aimed at decreasing your sensitivity to substances that cause allergic reactions. These substances are called allergens. Once these offending allergens are identified, medication is formulated specifically to combat them. The medication is then introduced in small, but increasing amounts over a period of time until the patient becomes desensitized to the allergens. Immunotherapy can lead to decreased, minimal, or no allergy symptoms as the body becomes desensitized by developing an immunity, or tolerance, or to the allergens.
What allergens do you test for?
You may be tested for over 100 different allergens, which include pollen, weeds, ragweeds, animal dander, fungus/molds, cockroach, dust mites and common foods. You will be tested for allergens common to the region in which you live. Based on the cross-reactivity of certain species, you may obtain a broader coverage of defense against allergens across the country.
How soon could I begin immunotherapy?
Most patients can begin within a week or two of being tested.
Is relief immediate?
Most patients see consistent relief in 3-6 months, but many experience relief within 30 days. This will vary with each patient.
Is immunotherapy really effective?
Yes, immunotherapy is usually quite effective. Your therapy is customized based on the offending allergens that yielded a positive response from your allergy test. Customizing your therapy allows your body to build-up its immunity to these allergens. Compliant patients have a very high success rate, about 80-90%. A typical course of treatment is 3-5 years.
What is the cost of immunotherapy?
The cost varies depending on what types of allergens and how many to which you are allergic. Insurance plans vary on their coverage amounts allowed for immunotherapy. Studies have shown that, over time, patients who undergo immunotherapy actually save money considering what they spend using prescription and/or over-the-counter medication.
Does insurance cover immunotherapy?
Yes, the majority of insurance companies cover immunotherapy and skin testing.