Allergy is the body immune system's extreme reaction to external stimulus, known as allergens, which would otherwise be harmless. Allergens can range from something as tiny and miniscule as plant pollen to something as trivial as food. With millions of people around the world suffering from allergy, a way to cure it or at least suppress it became widely sought after. A type of immunotherapy known as desensitization is currently being used to suppress allergic symptoms of affected individuals. Allergens are systematically introduced into a person's body through regularly scheduled vaccine shots. These vaccine shots contain measured and increasing dosage of the allergen of concern. The goal of doing allergy immunotherapy is not to ''cure'' allergy but rather to allow the body to get used to the allergen causing the reaction. Continuous incremental doses would slowly allow the body's immune system to cope up with the allergen and eventually the symptoms will be minimized or totally eradicated.
Allergy vaccines are generally safe for both children and adults but it should be administered by a trained physician inside a well-equipped facility. Extreme allergic reactions can cause asphyxiation and subsequently death if not handled properly.
Allergy vaccines usually consists of around 20 shots spread over a fairly long period of time with month/s in between doses. This is firs to build up the desensitization factor within the body and then followed by a maintenance phase. The sheer number of shots however is bothersome to most people and a call for less dosage gave birth to innovations within allergy immunotherapy
One method is to increase exposure rate from day one. In order to increase the allergen exposure without increasing the risk for the patient, allergens may be treated chemically as to reduce their allergy-related characteristics. Another method that can be employed is using a slow release vehicle for the allergens. Once injected to the patient, the vehicle will release the allergens in regular intervals.
One should take note that allergy immunotherapy has the possibility of not working since this is just ''training'' the body's immune system not to react to the substances rather than to produce substances to counteract pathogens similar to other vaccines. Other reasons for the failure of allergy immunotherapy includes under dosage of allergens, missing dosing sessions, unidentified allergens during evaluation, high concentration of allergen in the environment and body adaptation to new allergens.
Some common types of allergy vaccines: