Pros and Cons of Rush Immunotherapy for Allergies
Allergy immunotherapy (commonly referred to as “allergy shots”) is one of the most effective methods of allergy treatment. Chances are you have heard about types of immunotherapy called rush immunotherapy or cluster immunotherapy, which are supposed to provide results more rapidly than regular allergy shots.
In this article, we will talk about the main differences between conventional immunotherapy and accelerated procedures, as well as their advantages, disadvantages and potential risks.
Immunotherapy as a Potential Cure for Allergies and Asthma
When it comes to conditions like allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, venom allergy, allergic conjunctivitis and atopic dermatitis, immunotherapy (allergy shots) is the only treatment that can potentially cure the allergy. What makes allergy shots different from allergy medications is that they can actually change the way your body reacts to your allergens.
While immunotherapy may offer a great allergy relief, it is a long process that requires you to come to the allergist’s office almost every week for a period of 3 to 5 years. Besides, it may take several months (usually, 3 to 6 months) for allergy shots to start working. Therefore, many people find this therapy quite inconvenient.
Some allergists and immunologists use accelerated schedules for immunotherapy to achieve the results of allergy shots faster. They do it by increasing a dose of allergy shots faster, which also helps to achieve a maintenance dose sooner. Once you get to your maintenance dose, you will also be able to visit the allergist’s office less often.
There are two types of accelerated immunotherapy: rush immunotherapy and cluster immunotherapy.
Rush Immunotherapy Briefly
In this type of immunotherapy, a person receives increasing doses of allergy shots over a period of several hours to days, which allows for achieving the maintenance dose much faster than normally.
Many specialists often start giving increasing a dose of allergy shots every fifteen minutes to one hour during one to three days, and then increase the dose rapidly achieving the maintenance levels.
What Are the Advantages of Rush Immunotherapy?
The main advantage of rush immunotherapy is that you can get to maintenance dose of your allergy shots much faster compared to conventional immunotherapy. In most cases, it takes about six weeks. Once the initial period of the therapy is over, you will be able to visit the allergist’s office just once a week or even less often.
Besides, the effect of allergy shots will be noticed much faster with rush immunotherapy. Usually, people can feel the benefit with a few weeks.
The treatment of venom allergies, such as bee sting allergies or ant sting allergy, often involves rush immunotherapy. Accelerated schedule for allergy shots can provide quicker protection against potential reactions to insect stings in the future. If you have experienced allergic reaction to allergy shots during conventional immunotherapy, rush immunotherapy may be a safer option for you. According to a study published in 2016, children with venom allergies can be safely treated with rush immunotherapy, which in this case was also found to be more efficient.
In addition, considering rush immunotherapy in the long run, it may also result to be more cost-effective.
What Are the Disadvantages of Rush Immunotherapy?
This type of allergy treatment has a number of disadvantages. To start with, statistics shows that people undergoing rush immunotherapy are more likely to develop allergic reactions to allergy shots. Therefore, rush immunotherapy is often combined with allergy medications like antihistamines and corticosteroids, which helps to prevent or reduce the reactions.
Besides, rush immunotherapy requires you to spend a couple of full days in the allergist’s office, where you will be receiving allergy shots over short periods of time. However, the time commitment can be decreased later on.
Cluster Immunotherapy Briefly
If you compare the speed of dose escalation, cluster immunotherapy is something between standard allergy shots and rush immunotherapy. Specialists applying cluster immunotherapy approach often use two or three injections containing increasing doses of allergens for each treatment session. This technique is believed to achieve maintenance dosing level within four to eight weeks. Compared to conventional immunotherapy, it also requires fewer injections in total.
People undergoing cluster immunotherapy are also at a higher risk of reacting to allergy shots.
The Bottom Line
Rush and cluster immunotherapies can help people with allergies get benefit from allergy shots sooner through achieving maintenance doses much faster. On the other hand, these alternatives to standard immunotherapy may also carry a higher risk of allergic reactions to allergy shots.
Usually, most allergists use standard immunotherapy for all their patients, and don’t offer the choice of accelerated schedule of allergy shots. Therefore, people who are interested in receiving a specific type of immunotherapy should contact allergists in their city and find someone who offers these treatment procedures.