We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is a Specific Immunotherapy?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Specific immunotherapy (SIT) is a treatment used to help people who suffer from allergies. An allergy is an overreaction by the immune system to substances like pollen that are harmless to the body, and specific immunotherapy is a technique of training the immune system to become less aggravated by a particular allergen. This method of reducing the severity of allergies requires the affected person to be exposed to small quantities of the allergen through injections or through oral drops. Specific immunotherapy is also known as hyposensitization or allergen-specific immunotherapy.

Allergies are abnormal responses to substances such as peanuts, dust and pollen. Some people suffer from allergic reactions to one or more of these substances that are so severe it impacts on the quality of life for the person. Asthma is one example of an allergy that is potentially life-threatening, and a condition called anaphylactic shock can also kill people with allergies to substances like shellfish or nuts. The exact way in which allergies work is all due to the components of the immune system reacting badly to allergens.

Normally the immune system is helpful in fighting infection, as the cells and the antibody molecules in the body recognize and destroy a variety of invading pathogens like bacteria or viruses. Generally, the antibodies and immune cells register the presence of an invader, and send signals to the body to help kill and break down the invader. These signals include molecules that act as instructions to produce swelling, redness and pain at the affected area.

When a person has an allergy, these signals produce symptoms that are not helpful to health, and indeed are detrimental to health. At the mild end of the scale, an allergy can produce symptoms like red eyes, an increase in tear production or skin rashes. Severe allergic reactions can cause the body's tissues to swell so much, or constrict the lungs, so that the person cannot breathe. Anaphylactic shock can also affect the ability of the heart to beat normally.

Although allergens produce undesirable effects in those affected by the allergies, scientists have figured out that actually presenting the immune system to the allergen can help train the immune system to respond in a more normal manner to the allergen. With specific immunotherapy, the exact allergens from the substance in question, such as proteins from peanuts, are packaged into a vaccine-like product. Typically, specific immunotherapy requires the allergen to be injected into the body, or absorbed into the body through liquid drops under the tongue.

Generally, the body adapts to a regular exposure to an allergen with a reduced level of immune response, as it has learned to deal with the allergen in a less over-the-top manner, so patients commonly have to have an extended course of specific immunotherapy over time. A risk of severe allergic reactions still exists with the immunotherapy allergens, and some people do not respond to the treatment. Some people, however, after a course of treatment, find that their allergies to a specific substance have disappeared.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.