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The Future of Immunotherapy

Ask Your Allergist About Immunotherapy Treatment


Allergies affect millions of people worldwide: it’s estimated that 400 to 500 million people suffer from allergies, with about 10% of those having a debilitating form of the condition. Moving past being a simple irritant, uncontrolled allergies can lead to a significant complication such as chronic asthma.

While it’s believed that approximately 25% of the population has allergic rhinitis (hay fever), science does not yet know the exact cause of the condition, according to Dr. Anne Ellis, Director of the Allergy Research Unit, Kingston General Hospital Research Institute.

“We don’t fully understand why some people develop allergies and others don’t,” says Dr. Ellis. “There are a number of theories around why we’ve seen such a big increase in environmental allergies and asthma over the past 50 years. A lot of it has to do with everything we’ve done to enjoy life as an industrialized society, like better hygiene, and more air traffic pollution. The price we’ve paid is an increased rate of allergic conditions.”

With the increased rate of allergies and the sometimes serious complications, it’s important to speak to your doctor about being referred to an allergist for testing and to receive the best treatment to ensure your allergies are kept under control. A viable option for many is allergy immunotherapy treatment.

Immunotherapy trains your body to ignore the benign by introducing small, controlled amounts of the allergen so that the body learns to accept it.

Dr. Jason Lee, specialist in Clinical Immunology and Allergy and Internal Medicine

What is allergy immunotherapy?

Many people think immunotherapy only refers to cancer and immuno-oncology, but there’s more to it than that. What, then, is allergy immunotherapy? 

Dr. Jason Lee is a specialist in Clinical Immunology and Allergy and Internal Medicine. “An allergy is when your body reacts to something that’s benign because it has made a mistake in identifying the benign thing as something it needs to attack,” he explains. “Immunotherapy trains your body to ignore the benign by introducing small, controlled amounts of the allergen so that the body learns to accept it.”

So, unlike antihistamines which merely mask the symptoms, immunotherapy teaches your body to adapt to the offending substance. “It’s a treatment that actually tries to change your underlying immune reaction,” says Dr. Ellis.

Needles vs. pills

The newest treatment option in allergy immunotherapy are SLIT-Tablets, a sublingual immunotherapy treatment, as compared to subcutaneous immunotherapy treatment (SCIT). Both are effective, but each has its advantages. 

SLIT-Tablets are convenient in that they allow for home administration after the first dose in the doctor’s office. SCIT is statistically slightly more effective, but patients must get weekly injections for the first few months, and then monthly thereafter. It can therefore take up to one year for patients to see results. SLIT-Tablets begin to work within 8 to 12 weeks when taken at the right time of year.

It’s important for those with allergies to discuss both options with their allergist, asking key questions such as:

  1. Do I have any risk factors for allergic reactions to immunotherapy?
  2. Is my asthma well-controlled enough to try immunotherapy?
  3. What are my specific allergens?
  4. What’s the cost and is it covered by health insurance?

Only through these discussions will you find out how best to control your allergies and if allergy immunotherapy is right for you.

At ALK Canada our focus is simple:
Allergy Patients First

Our Aspiration

We want to be the world leader in allergies. By building a broader presence in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of allergies, we want to help as many people with allergies as possible by connecting with them in
the moments they need us the most.

Our Vision

Building upon our strong heritage as a pioneer in allergy immunotherapy, we will continue to innovate, develop, and market new products and solutions for people with the allergies, and for the healthcare professionals who help them.

Our Promise

We strive today to make a better tomorrow for those we care about most — people living with allergies. In everything we do, we want to provide solutions that make life with allergies surprisingly simple.

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