Asthma Treatment - Medications for Allergy-Induced Asthma - Allergy Shots / Immunotherapy

Asthma is a disorder that affects millions of Americans at different age levels. In the vast majority of cases of asthma in children and in about half of the cases involving adults, the condition is induced by some type of allergic reaction. Although there is no cure for asthma, there are ways of relieving its symptoms. One method of helping sufferers overcome the effects of allergy-induced asthma is through the principle of immunotherapy.

An allergy essentially results from the improper operation of a person's immune system, which itself is designed to protect the body from outside biological threats. In someone with an allergy, the system actually works too well, reacting adversely when it encounters an allergen. This causes the release in the person's system of the chemical histamine, which in turn produces the sneezing, wheezing and coughing that come with allergies. Those who suffer from an allergy-induced asthmatic condition will experience even more serious breathing difficulties related to the tightening of the muscles in their bronchial passages and the clogging of their throats with thick mucus. The number of cases of allergy-induced asthma have risen dramatically in recent years, a phenomenon that may be related to an increase in the exposure of children to different types of allergens.

Bronchodilators, or inhalers, can be useful in treating the short-term effects of allergy-induced asthma, but cases that are more severe will necessitate treatment of the underlying factors. The medication omalizumab is useful as a preventive measure in the way it disrupts the inflammation process, making the recipient less sensitive to allergens. The medication is normally injected into the patient once or twice a month. Although costly, omalizumab has few side effects and is considered safe for consumption.

Commonly known as "allergy shots," immunotherapy takes the preemptive philosophy to the next level, with the intent of making the patient immune from the allergens that provoke asthmatic reactions. These injections contain small amounts of the whatever materials are found to cause the allergies in the patient. The shots are given once or twice a week, with the dose of the allergen being progressively increased. The maximum amount will normally be reached after about six months of regular injections, with the therapy often continuing for many years. The patient should, over time, become more immune to the allergens, with the effects often remaining long after the treatment has ceased.

In treating the underlying allergies, immunotherapy can prevent the troublesome and potentially harmful asthmatic reactions that they induce. However, those with asthma may be at an increased risk of suffering adverse reactions to the shots themselves, which is why they are always administered in a clinic or office. Less serious side effects of allergy shots can include the appearance of redness in the skin that usually goes away in a short period of time. In lieu of shots, doctors may prescribe tablets that have received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Used properly, these medical treatments can reduce the incidence of allergy-induced asthma attacks and may actually prevent severe flare-ups.