This interview was published in the German news magazine Der Spiegel on 12th February 2015. It describes how hyposensibilization using the right injections or pills can potentially turn off an allergic response for up to 2 years.
The interview was translated using Google Translate, so it might be a bit difficult to read, but I think the gist is clear.
Here is the original article in German: Curing An Allergy Using Hyposensibilization
When is a desensitization thearpy useful? Do the allergens always have to be injected? Physician Jörg Kleine-Tebbe explains how the antiallergic therapy works and what the risks and benefits are.
About the expert
Jörg Kleine-Tebbe habilitated on allergies, is a board member of the German Society for Allergology and co-founder of Allergy and Asthma Center Westend in Berlin-Charlottenburg. He is also author of the book “Allergology in hospitals and practices” (Thieme).
SPIEGEL ONLINE: When using desensitization therapy, an allergy sufferer mostly gets treated in the form of being injected those allergens to which he responded, so he should get used to them. Does that make sense?
Kleine-Tebbe: Immunotherapy with individual allergens is the only way, to influence the natural history of an allergy. All other antiallergic drugs combat the symptoms.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do the allergens have to be injected for it to work?
Kleine-Tebbe: In most cases, the body is fed high doses of allergens during hyposensibilization . In the past, this was only possible through syringes that were given weekly or monthly for at least three years. Nowadays, there are also short term methods in which the preparation is injected only for a few months before the pollen season.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: It remains a major hassle, because you often have to visit the doctor. Are there any alternatives?
Kleine-Tebbe: Nowadays, there are ways these amounts of allergen can be taken by the patients themselves on a daily basis. These are drops that are dripped under the tongue and also grass and pollen tablets. They will also be placed under the tongue. This sublingual immunotherapy, abbreviated slit, will be the template for dealing with other allergies, such as of dust mite allergy and others.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is it as effective?
Kleine-Tebbe: Studies have shown shown that these tablets very convincingly relieve the symptoms of grass pollen allergy if they are given four months before the start of the season. The patient needs to then take significantly less medication. Although there are no studies comparing it to the the injection of allergens, we assume that the effectiveness is similar.We know that after three years of Slit-therapy, the discomfort is lowered for at least two years. But the goal is a long-term improvement and that it does not develop into asthma. Whether the sublingual therapy can provide this, we will only be able to answer in a few years, when appropriate studies have been evaluated.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: For injection therapy the effectiveness has been demonstrated?
Kleine-Tebbe: This form of therapy has been around for over 100 years. However, the documentation of the efficacy and safety is quite different. Just before Christmas 2014, the guideline was updated for specific immunotherapy and for the first time with additional online tables, listing the available preparations for hyposensitization and the existing studies. So everyone can get an overview of the current data situation quickly.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: But in this therapy is the risk that patients might suffer an allergic shock .
Kleine-Tebbe: During subcutaneous therapy, short Scit, injections are injected under the skin into the fat tissue. In rare cases, unexpected severe allergic reactions can occur. Therefore, patients should wait after the therapy for at least half an hour in the surgery, so that the doctor can give anti-allergic agents if necessary. These complications are much rarer during the sublingual therapy. There is, however, in the first two to three weeks often some itching and swelling in the mouth, which occur only short term. In total, Slit is safer than injecting the corresponding allergens.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Should you start the desensitization in winter?
Kleine-Tebbe: It is recommended to begin no later than four months before the next season – the grass pollen are around from the end of May.But the desensitization – whether administered as an injection or sublingual – will still bring some relief of symptoms when patients only start the therapy during allergy season.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Isn’t it dangerous if the natural pollen are added to the dose from the desensitization therapy?
Kleine-Tebbe: No, apparently it’s not bad if, in addition to the drugs, you receive the pollen from your environment. Ideally, one begins with the therapy before the pollen season, and maintains them during and stops thereafter. Or you could continue the therapy over the whole year.
I would just like to point out desensibilization or hyposensibilization therapy is the basis of the NLP allergy cure, which is described somewhere else on this site. The NLP allergy cure compresses the whole desesibilization process into a few minutes.