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I've been reading about immunotherapy, and in particular, allergy drops.

My understanding is that by taking small amounts of an allergen by any route of administration, you restore tolerance to that allergen, and eventually cease to have an allergic reaction.

Is that true? If so, why is something similar to allergy drops not used in the home? E.g. If you have a mild nut allergy, why not eat small, gradually increasing amounts of nuts every day until the nut allergy ceases?

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    Excellent question! There may be some delay in responses as we are in the process of reshaping the site but this deserves a good response. Welcome :) – DoctorWhom Sep 16 '17 at 23:40
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This is an old technique called desensitization, or, if you want to be fancy, allergen immunotherapy.

Among other techniques, is this one

Allergy injections start with a very low dose. A small needle is used which may be uncomfortable, but not very painful. The dose is gradually increased on a regular (usually weekly) basis, until an effective (maintenance) dose is reached. This usually takes three to six months. This dose may vary between patients, depending on the degree of sensitivity.

Once the maintenance dose is reached, injections are administered less often, usually monthly, although still on a regular basis. Immunotherapy injections should always be administered in a medical facility under medical supervision. You should stay at the medical facility for the time recommended by the clinical immunology/allergy specialist (30-45 minutes) after the immunotherapy injection has been given.

And here's a oral trial in children with peanut allergy

Forty-eight children were enrolled in the PPOIT trial and were randomly given either a combination of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus with peanut protein in increasing amounts, or a placebo, once daily for 18 months.

At the end of the original trial in 2013, 82% of children who received the immunotherapy treatment were deemed tolerant to peanuts compared with just 4% in the placebo group.

Now the issue with doing this at home as you're asking is that you risk anaphylaxis and death if your allergy is severe.

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  • Is it only about the anaphylaxis risk? I think my allergologist told me that exposure to allergens can make the allergies stronger, though that is contradictory to immunotherapy … – Martin Ueding Mar 17 '18 at 12:10
  • Sure. Repeated uncontrolled exposure increases ige levels and leads to an increasing allergic response. – Graham Chiu Mar 17 '18 at 17:52
  • But what is the key element in immunotherapy that makes the allergies weaker? How is the exposure different? – Martin Ueding Mar 19 '18 at 18:37
  • You should ask a separate question and not ask in the comments. – Graham Chiu Mar 19 '18 at 18:49
  • I did, but apparently I have to do some more homework. – Martin Ueding Mar 20 '18 at 16:19

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