Like every year, sunny days are dreaded by many people allergic to pollen. To deal with it, there is the effective solution of desensitization.
It’s the return of spring. If the flowers are budding and the trees are getting their leaves back, this means the return of pollen allergies for almost a quarter of the French population. Pollen concentrations will increase dramatically due to weather conditions that favor the emission and dispersal of grass pollen in the air.
While many allergy sufferers take antihistamines every spring to reduce runny and itchy nose, sneezing, and itchy throat and eyes, it is possible to get desensitized. There is indeed a treatment with increasing doses of allergen which reduces the symptoms of pollen allergy over the long term, it is allergen immunotherapy, also called desensitization.
A treatment that lasts 3 to 5 years
As Inserm explains, allergy is a disorder of the immune system which corresponds to a loss of tolerance towards substances that are a priori harmless: allergens. “Desensitization, or allergen immunotherapy (ITA), aims to make the patient tolerant of the responsible allergen. It is a kind of vaccine treatment for allergies, based on the regular administration of extracts allergens for a prolonged period, ideally 3 to 5 years”, details the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, which specifies that the benefits are earlier and clearly appear after 3 or 4 months.
While it was done by weekly subcutaneous injections then monthly for a very long time, desensitization is increasingly done by the sublingual route, a less restrictive and better tolerated method. These drops of allergens are taken in the morning, they must be kept under the tongue for two minutes before swallowing them. Tablets are also available for grass pollens. According to several studies, this treatment also reduces the risk of developing other allergies.
During treatment, your body is exposed to the allergens it is allergic to, which may result in a generally minimal reaction. It is most often itching, burning sensations in the lips or swelling under the tongue. This desensitization must be prescribed after having done allergic tests and an assessment by an allergist to establish a precise diagnosis.
There may be contraindications to this type of treatment, especially when the causal relationship between allergen sensitization and the patient’s symptoms is not proven. The Belgian website Rhinitis and Allergies indicates that immunotherapy is strictly contraindicated in the event of autoimmune disease and immune deficiency, malignancy, severe psychopathy, treatment with beta-blockers and in the event of severe uncontrolled asthma. by drug treatment. There are also temporary contraindications, especially in case of fever or when allergic symptoms worsen.
Too late for the over 50s
Anyone can be desensitized from the age of 5. The effectiveness is better in children and young adults, while in principle one should not desensitize after the age of 50, recalls the National Academy of Medicine. The treatment for pollen desensitization begins 3 to 4 months before the pollen season and lasts 4 months per year, while it lasts all year for dust mites.
Several studies highlight the effectiveness of desensitization. In most cases, desensitization can significantly reduce the symptoms of allergy for several years after stopping treatment depending on the person. For example, some must resume treatment if the symptoms return after several years.
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