It is obvious to all of us by the amount of yellow and green film on our windows and driveways that springtime has arrived in our part of the country. While we are happy to get out of the cold damp weather the resulting pollen counts certainly aggravate our noses, our throats and even our lungs.
I have written several articles about different therapies to reduce the misery that seasonal allergies cause. Today I would like to focus specifically on what people commonly referred to as allergy immunotherapy and how it can help greatly reduce and often even eliminate allergies.
Because of ongoing medical research on immunology at the cellular and molecular level we know so much more about our immune system and what can go wrong. Essentially most allergic reactions are due to an abundance of an abnormal type of white blood cell called a T2 lymphocyte. These white blood cells are responsible for release of chemicals that create inflammation that is not a healthy part of an immune’s response (like if you had an infection or an injury.) The healthy immune response comes from white blood cells called T1 lymphocytes.
Simply put, your bone marrow is responsible for making these white blood cells and you can only make so many. If you are an allergic person you are making a larger percentage of the bad allergy producing lymphocytes. This also means that because you have a relatively lower number of infection fighting lymphocytes not only do you have allergies but you are more prone to infection.
We now know that allergy immunotherapy, which most of us grew up as thinking of as allergy shots, works by stimulating the production of the good guys, the T1 cells and then decreasing the production of the allergy bad guys, the T2 cells.
I feel that this is the most natural way to help our immune system cope with the onslaught of allergies. While medications such as antihistamines and nasal sprays are very beneficial they can honestly only do so much.
As I said, traditionally we have thought of allergy therapy as shots. But there is the alternative of allergy therapy given as drops under the tongue. I began using this form of treatment, called sublingual immunotherapy, in 1997. In fact I was the first doctor in Montgomery County to start patients on allergy drops under the tongue. At the time it was considered almost controversial but the science data showed that it is helpful and was the standard of care for treatment of allergies in Europe.
My office has many patients on allergy therapy both drops under the tongue and conventional shots. Scientific data shows that the success rate for both is good and one technique is as effective as the other.
Starting allergy therapy requires testing to determine exactly what you are allergic to. The testing is painless and definitive. And as I said I believe this is a natural way to eliminate your allergy suffering.