Applied Evidence

Allergy immunotherapy: Who, what, when … and how safe?

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These allergens are appropriate for AIT

Allergens may be described in terms of mechanism and chronicity of exposure. While avoidance of offending allergens is recommended for those who are sensitized, avoidance is not always possible.6,7,9,13 AIT has been studied as a therapeutic modality to prevent exposure-related symptoms associated with each of the following types of allergens.6,7,9,11,14

Inhalant allergens circulate in disturbed and undisturbed air and may be seasonal (eg, pollen), perennial (eg, cat/dog allergens), and/or occupational.9 They can derive from the indoors (eg, cockroach, cat, dog, dust mite) or outdoors (eg, tree, grass, or weed pollen ),6,7,9,11 and serve as triggers for many allergic diseases such as allergic rhinitis (AR), allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, allergic dermatitis, and asthma.7,13

Food allergens. Sensitization to food allergens may produce a range of symptoms.6,7 One person may experience nothing more than tingling of the lips when eating a peach, while another may experience throat tightness and anaphylaxis due to the aroma of shellfish cooking.

Occupational allergens. Exposure to occupational allergens varies depending on the setting. Those who work in health care or with animals can be exposed to allergens (eg, latex and animal proteins, respectively) that can cause skin or respiratory hypersensitivity reactions. Occupational allergens can also include chemicals; workers in agriculture or housekeeping may be particularly at risk.

Insect allergens. Envenomation by stinging insects of the order Hymenoptera (bees, yellow jackets, hornets, wasps, fire ants) most commonly causes a pruritic, painful local reaction, but patients sensitized to Hymenoptera venom experience systemic allergic reactions that range from mild to life-threatening.3,6,7

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