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Also known simply as "allergy shots," immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that minimizes the symptoms you or your child experiences due to allergies, asthma and allergic rhinitis (hay fever).

Immunotherapy works by decreasing the body’s sensitivity to certain allergens, thus providing long-lasting symptom relief.

Food Immunotherapy

As you may be aware, food immunotherapy is commonly called "OIT" or oral immunotherapy. The current programs in the United States use OIT with a specific, standardized dose escalation of whole food product (i.e. peanut) over a period of time to induce desensitization of that food in a food-allergic patient.

Many OIT programs complete therapy when patients reach a goal dose of a food allergen. Those goal doses differ from program to program. For example, some OIT patients reach a "graduating" dose of 400 mg of peanut (the equivalent of 1 peanut). These patients maintain this dose daily but cannot eat more than one peanut daily. This provides "bite proof" protection but does not provide larger safety from anaphylaxis. Other programs aim for a goal dose of 4000 mg peanut (roughly 8-10 peanuts) given daily or three times a week. Although this dose provides some treatment benefit, it does not provide larger safety from anaphylaxis.

Dr. Randhawa’s program achieves a substantially higher maintenance dose, typically given weekly. In addition, the patient is free to eat a normal U.S. dietary intake of the allergic food involved. This larger maintenance dose provides a larger safety net from anaphylaxis while still achieving the treatment effect of food immunotherapy. Importantly, you may be free to enjoy foods and experiences that previously had been off-limits.

Learn more about food immunotherapy »

How does immunotherapy work?

Immunotherapy is like a vaccine for your allergies. Our Los Angeles allergist inject tiny amounts of the allergen into your body, slowly increasing the dose until you develop immunity or a greater tolerance to the substance.

It’s a very effective way to reduce symptoms, prevent new allergies from forming and ensure that allergies don’t progress into asthma in children. Following immunotherapy at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles, many of our patients report long-lasting relief, especially when treatment is combined with lifestyle changes such as avoiding known triggers.

Immunotherapy (SCIT or SLIT) is the ONLY treatment that offers the potential to CURE allergies by changing your immune system so that it becomes tolerant to that which you are allergic.

Allergies treated by immunotherapy

Immunotherapy can lessen allergy symptoms that are triggered by a number of common causes, including:

Seasonal allergies

Immunotherapy is able to reduce symptoms in patients who suffer from hay fever and/or are allergic to pollen.

Indoor allergies

For patients who suffer from year-round indoor allergies due to dust mites, mold and pet dander, immunotherapy is a very effective way to control symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Insect stings

Patients who are allergic to insect stings also respond extremely well to immunotherapy treatments.

Food Allergies

Some patients get an unpleasant or dangerous immune system reaction after eating certain foods.

What to expect during treatment

There are two phases involved in immunotherapy at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles: the build-up phase and the maintenance phase.

During the build-up phase, we will administer the injections quite frequently – approximately one to two times a week. Each treatment gradually increases the dose until we reach the desired level, which typically takes around three to six months. Next, we move onto the maintenance phase, during which we will administer treatment less often – about once every two to four weeks. If the shots are successful in treating your symptoms, the maintenance phase will last for about five years.

After each immunotherapy appointment, you’ll be required to stay at the office for 30 minutes to ensure you don’t develop any side effects, such as a runny nose, shortness of breath or a tight throat. You can also expect to experience some redness and swelling at the injection site, though this is completely normal and will subside within a few hours.

Can I benefit from immunotherapy?

At the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles, we administer immunotherapy to patients beginning at age five. In general, it’s a safe and effective treatment for individuals of all ages who are suffering from allergies. With that said, you may benefit from immunotherapy if you:

  • Experience a lengthy allergy season and severe symptoms.
  • Have allergies that aren’t well controlled with current medications and lifestyle changes.
  • Would like to avoid being on medication long-term.
  • Can’t take medication due to side effects or interactions with other prescriptions.
  • Are allergic to insect stings.

Early Peanut Introduction Clinic

This is a clinic for infants at high risk of peanut allergy that was created for the safe early introduction of peanut into the diet, with the goal of decreasing the likelihood that these infants will go on to develop peanut allergy. The clinic concept builds upon the findings of the recent well-publicized LEAP study and is consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics and other prominent medical societies’ joint statement on interim guidance for introduction of peanuts for high-risk infants.

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If you or your child is suffering from allergies, please know that relief is possible with expert care from our specialists at the Lung & Allergy Institute of Los Angeles. Please contact us today to schedule an appointment, and let us help you control your allergies and restore your quality of life.

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