“Immunotherapy” or desensitisation has been used in the UK since 1911. It works by introducing regular amounts of the allergen to the immune system which in the long term induces tolerance to the said allergen.
Immunotherapy can be offered via subcutaneous injections (SCIT) or by sublingual tablets (SLIT). Subcutaneous immunotherapy requires attendance to specialist clinics for a series of hay fever injections whereas sublingual tablets can be taken at home.
For grass pollen the hay fever treatment starts once the pollen season is over and treatment started at least a few months prior to the next season. The clinical effect is seen in the first year with improved quality of life and decreased medication use6 and usually there is a further improvement in the second year. Treatment carries on for a further year, making it a 3 year course altogether.
In order to be considered for immunotherapy you will need to be referred to an allergy clinic by your GP.
Immunotherapy treatments can be accessed at some NHS hospitals which have an allergy service or at private hospitals by doctors with a special interest in allergy.