Allergen-Specific Immunotherapy (Hyposensitization)

Allergen-specific immunotherapy is the only way to counteract the cause of the allergy, i.e. the excessive immune response. Our medical team provides an overview of the forms of application and answers important questions in this guidebook article.

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Hyposensitization is used primarily for type 1 allergies, in which the antibody IgE plays a central role. In this process, the affected person is administered controlled increasing concentrations of the allergen that is responsible for the symptoms.


Initially, only a low concentration of the allergen is administered to the body - this does not yet trigger a classic allergic reaction. However, specific antibodies, messenger substances and cells of the immune system are activated. These block an intensification of the immune reaction and weaken the inflammatory reactions in the tissue.

Slowly and in a controlled manner, the supply of the allergen is increased at certain intervals. In this way, the body slowly becomes accustomed to the allergen over the long term and develops allergy tolerance.

Forms of therapy

In allergen-specific immunotherapy, a distinction is made between two forms, depending on how the allergen is administered.

  • SCIT subcutaneous immunotherapy: injection with a syringe.

  • SLIT sublingual immunotherapy: administration in the form of a liquid solution or with tablets.

The result report of the igevia allergy test indicates for which allergens specific immunotherapy is possible. Please talk to your doctor for more detailed information.

Frau nimmt Tablette mit Wasserglas ein

When can I start immunotherapy?

For allergies that cause symptoms throughout the year, allergen-specific immunotherapy can be started at any time after diagnosis. For seasonal allergies, such as pollen allergy, therapy should not be started during the season, but in late summer or fall.

How long does specific immunotherapy last?

In order to achieve optimal effectiveness of the therapy, it is necessary to carry it out long enough. On average, a therapy period of (at least) three years is recommended.

How effective is allergen-specific immunotherapy?

The effectiveness of allergen-specific immunotherapy depends on:

  • the type of allergen
  • the type and duration of the disease
  • the age of the patient
  • the method of administration
  • the cooperation of the patient

Numerous clinical studies prove the success of hyposensitization. There is demonstrable relief of allergic symptoms as well as reduction of medication.

Allergen-specific immunotherapy is particularly promising for pollen allergies, house dust allergies (especially allergic rhinitis), and bee and wasp venom allergies.

What side effects can occur during treatment?

In principle, the therapy is well tolerated. Severe or life-threatening side effects, such as anaphylactic shock, occur only very rarely.

Most side effects are mild to moderate and subside after a short time. In the interest of patient safety, patients remain in the clinic or doctor's office for at least half an hour after allergy shots are administered to quickly check for side effects. Even with SLIT, it is recommended to have the therapy monitored by a physician in the beginning.

Side effects of SCIT at the injection site:.

  • redness
  • swelling
  • itching

Side effects of SLIT:

  • Local symptoms in the mouth and throat
  • Itching
  • Symptoms in the gastrointestinal tract

Antibody therapies

Artificially produced anti-IgE antibodies are also used to treat allergic diseases. These block the antibody IgE, which is an important mediator of allergic reactions, and minimize allergic inflammation. One well-known anti-IgE antibody is omalizumab, which has been used successfully for years in the treatment of asthma, neurodermatitis and hives (urticaria).


This article has been reviewed by unserem Medical-Team for accuracy of content.


  • Pfarr, O et al., 2014: Leitlinie zur (allergen-) spezifischen Immuntherapie bei IgE-vermittelten Erkrankungen. Allergo J Int 2014; 23:282

  • Biedermann, T et al. (Hrsg., 2016): Allergologie. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg, 2. Aufl., ISBN 9783642372025

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