New report shows the benefits of immunotherapy for asthma

Immunotherapy for asthma

New report shows the benefits of immunotherapy for asthma

A report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), published in March, revealed the benefits of using immunotherapy for asthma, specifically allergic asthma. The report is based on research into the benefits of both subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT).

You can use immunotherapy to treat allergic asthma. Allergic asthma is a reaction caused by exposure to an allergen. Common allergens include pollen, house dust mites, and animals. Allergens trigger an asthma attack which causes symptoms including wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. It’s a health issue that’s becoming increasingly common. In Europe, three people die per day as a result of asthma. It can especially be an issue in the winter.


Immunotherapy for asthma comes in the form of subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) or sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Both methods seek to reduce sensitivity to allergens that cause allergic asthma, therefore reducing the symptoms. To do so, the patient is repeatedly administered with one or multiple allergens to increase their tolerance to them. SCIT does this by injecting a solution containing the allergens under the skin. With SLIT, allergen exposure comes via an aqueous solution or tablet placed under the tongue.

The report states that SCIT and SLIT reduce the need for long-term control medication. Both treatments improve asthma-specific quality of life, decrease the use of quick-relief medications, decrease the use of systemic corticosteroids, and improve forced expiratory volume. SLIT showed further evidence of improving asthma symptoms in patients.

What does this mean?

These results are important for the health of people living with allergic asthma. Although many with asthma rely on long-term medications and corticosteroids, their use can have negative side effects. These may include coughs, voice changes, and oral thrush.

Some quick-relief medications used for allergic asthma can cause increased heart rates, headaches, high blood sugar, mood alterations, weight gain, and hypokalemia. By replacing these treatments with immunotherapy, the long and short-term health of people with allergic asthma could improve.

This may be why immunotherapy was also shown to improve people’s well-being. As well as experiencing reduced symptoms of allergic asthma, people were also less reliant on drugs to stay in control of their allergies. This means less time spent worrying about if you have enough medication, if your child has taken theirs to school, if teachers know how to use it, or remembering to take it. This makes for a more relaxed management of allergic asthma. This improves mood and reduces stress and anxiety which comes as a result of the condition.

The report did show a need for further research into the effectiveness of immunotherapy for the treatment of allergic asthma. There is little evidence to provide any comparative understanding of how effective immunotherapy is among different age groups, for different allergens, and in different settings. But with medical advancements in allergy treatments every day, the prognosis is looking good.

5.4 million people in the UK are currently undergoing treatment for asthma. If you think you should be one of them and would like to understand your symptoms further, book an appointment with one of our consultants. We use simple tests to determine what allergens may be causing your symptoms and provide the best ways to deal with them. Book an appointment today.

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