Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology
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Allergen-specific immunotherapy is a potentially disease-modifying therapy that is effective for the treatment of allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis, allergic asthma and stinging insect hypersensitivity. However, despite its proven efficacy in these conditions, it is frequently underutilized in Canada. The decision to proceed with allergen-specific immunotherapy should be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account individual patient factors such as the degree to which symptoms can be reduced by avoidance measures and pharmacological therapy, the amount and type of medication required to control symptoms, the adverse effects of pharmacological treatment, and patient preferences. Since this form of therapy carries the risk of anaphylactic reactions, it should only be prescribed by physicians who are adequately trained in the treatment of allergy. Furthermore, injections must be given under medical supervision in clinics that are equipped to manage anaphylaxis. In this article, the authors review the indications and contraindications, patient selection criteria, and the administration, safety and efficacy of allergen-specific immunotherapy.