Is There an Allergy Cure?

Cure for Allergies

Female nurse filling syringe
Allergy shots come the closest to a cure for allergies. Hero Images/Getty Images

Question: Is There an Allergy Cure?

Answer: Not exactly. Allergies are due to the immune system responding abnormally to typically harmless substances. The cause of allergies is complex, and includes interactions between a person’s genetic makeup and the environment. Since allergies are rooted in a person’s genes, the tendency for person to have allergy symptoms is lifelong. So while allergy symptoms can be prevented and treated, the abnormal response of an allergic immune system cannot be cured.

Avoidance of allergic triggers may seem like an allergy cure, and if a person can completely avoid the allergen in question, this may be true. However, avoidance isn’t really a cure, since re-exposure to the allergen would cause allergy symptoms.

Medications for the treatment of allergies can completely resolve symptoms, which may also seem like a cure. Unfortunately, medications only cover up symptoms, and the allergic reaction is still happening. When the medication is stopped, the allergy symptoms quickly return.

Allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots and allergy drops) comes the closest to curing allergies, since this treatment directly affects the immune system. Immunotherapy "teaches" the immune system to treat allergens as harmless substances, as they were meant to be treated. This therapy may reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms, and reduce or eliminate the need for allergy medications.

While this may seem to be an allergy cure, its benefits don’t last a lifetime, and symptoms may recur after many years, even if the symptoms aren’t as severe as before.

Source:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergen Immunotherapy Practice Parameters. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2003; 90:S1-40.

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