Allergens and Allergy Desensitization

Allergens are small protein substances commonly found in plants, animals, house dust, foods, medications, and insects. Persons with allergies make immune responses to these allergens by producing allergic antibodies (Immunoglobulin E). So a person with an allergy to dust, mold, or grass pollen is said to be “sensitized” to that allergen. Most people have multiple allergen sensitivities.

Allergy symptoms occur when a sensitized person encounters their allergen(s) either by direct contact (eyes, nose, mouth, or skin), ingestion, or inhalation into the lungs or lower airway. Early symptoms usually appear in seconds to minutes and may include sneezing, itching, watery/runny nose and eyes, nasal congestion, cough, scratchy throat, wheezing, rashes, swelling (eyelids, lips, tongue, or extremities), vomiting, bloating or diarrhea. If not treated promptly, symptoms may worsen or become persistent.

We can help determine a person’s allergies by taking a complete medical history, physical examination, and by performing allergy skin tests. Dr. Dilley and his medical staff will determine each individual’s specific allergies to determine treatment.

In addition to avoidance measures and medications, we may recommend allergy immunotherapy (“allergy shots”). These are a series of injections containing small to increasing doses of relevant allergens meant to reduce your allergies by a process called “desensitization”. The benefits of desensitization include better control of symptoms, reduced secondary infections, reduction of medication use, and in children the possibility of preventing the development of asthma.

We offer both conventional and RUSH immunotherapy. Unlike conventional, RUSH immunotherapy allows you to build up to your therapeutic dose of allergy injections in half a day as opposed to the usual 8-12 weeks. The result is more rapid improvement in symptoms and less time away from home, work, or school. Dr. Dilley can help you determine which method is best for you.