What is allergy anyway? We certainly know what allergies make us feel like. They make us sneeze, they make our noses water, they make our eyes red and itchy. Asthma is also often caused by allergy as are certain skin conditions. Sometimes allergies can cause severe life-threatening reactions such as in people who are allergic to bee stings who suffer from anaphylactic shock.
Allergy is simply a kind of immune response from your body reacting to something it thinks is a threat. Your immune system keeps you healthy by recognizing harmful things such as bacteria and viruses and unleashing the body’s defense mechanisms to get rid of them. Allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies an otherwise harmless substance such as pollen or animal dander as a potential health threat. When this happens, your body’s immune system takes action and tries to eliminate the offender. The type of immune response that most allergens trigger are from a chemical in the body known as IgE. When triggered, this specific pathway results in symptoms that we know as allergy: such as itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose and even asthma.
Typically, allergies are divided into either seasonal or perennial allergies. Seasonal allergies occur in one specific season or even in one specific month. They occur because of something specific in the environment that occurs during that time of the year such as the pollen from a specific tree. Other allergies are described as perennial because the offending Allergen is in the environment all year long. An example of this would be certain kinds of mold or dander.
Immunotherapy is appropriate for both seasonal and perennial allergy. The concept behind immunotherapy is to introduce very small quantities of those things that trigger an allergic reaction to essentially desensitize the body’s immune reaction over time. In other words, this kind of treatment teaches your body not to react to substances that are otherwise harmless.
Immunotherapy in the United States is most commonly performed via allergy shots. In the rest of the Western world, sublingual allergy drops such as SmartDrops™ predominate.