New study confirms that Allergy Immunotherapy for Allergic Rhinitis helps to prevent Asthma

Researchers in Dresden, Germany, have demonstrated that allergy immunotherapy (given as injections or sublingually) can significantly reduce the risk of developing asthma in patients with allergic rhinitis.

Doctors reviewed routine healthcare data from German National Health Insurance beneficiaries which identified a group of about 118,754 patients who chronically suffered from allergy symptoms but did not have asthma. This means they had not been previously diagnosed with asthma, did not have documented physician contacts due to asthma symptoms and did not have prescriptions filled for asthma medications. They used this information to track new appearances of asthma between 2007-2012 and compared patients who had been treated with immunotherapy against those who had never received treatment with immunotherapy.

“Counts and percentages were calculated for each confounding outcome and exposure variable,” Jochen Schmitt, MD, MPH, said. “We discovered that allergy immunotherapy being used in routine clinical care effectively prevents the onset of asthma. Most pronounced preventive effects were observed for immunotherapy containing native allergens (that is, allergies to things the patients are commonly exposed to), and immunotherapy administered for at least three years.”

Patients with allergic rhinitis are at a greatly increased risk for the development of asthma. Allergy immunotherapy is a very effective method of treating allergic rhinitis and it’s typically administered in two forms. The first is subcutaneous immunotherapy--allergy shots. The second is sublingual immunotherapy-- allergy drops/tablets. Both are forms of long-term treatment that decrease symptoms for many people with allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, or allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergy). They work to decrease sensitivity to allergens and typically lead to long lasting relief of allergy symptoms, even after treatment has been completed.

In the German study, patients treated with allergy immunotherapy were 78% less likely to develop asthma than those treated with medication alone—a dramatic reduction. “In patients with allergic rhinitis, allergy immunotherapy should be considered to prevent asthma. By reducing the primary risks for developing asthma, we can directly address and improve the burden of the disease for the patients and present significant cost savings for the healthcare system,” Schmitt concluded.

The authors concluded their study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, with the statement: “AIT (allergy immunotherapy) effectively prevents the progression of AR (allergic rhinitis) to asthma in a real-life setting… AIT should be initiated early in the allergic disease and be continued for at least 3 years.”

If you or your child suffer from allergic symptoms, please set up an appointment for allergy skin testing and to discuss the results of this study to determine if treatment with allergy immunotherapy is right for you or your loved ones to help make you less allergic, reduce your allergy symptoms, reduce your need for medication and help to prevent the future onset of asthma.

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