Fast Allergy Relief: A New Treatment
Dr. Smits is one of only a handful of doctors from across the United States who have effectively implemented a new allergy treatment called "rapid desensitization." This is an effective therapy for allergies, allergic asthma, chronic sinus infections, and chronic headaches. Many patients in northeast Indiana have already benefited from the procedure.
Rapid desensitization works well because it improves upon an already well-established treatment for allergies called immunotherapy, commonly known as "allergy shots." It is well accepted that immunotherapy works well for allergy sufferers, but it may take a patient up to twelve months of weekly injections before they experience any relief from their symptoms. This is often too long for many patients to endure. Many patients are simply not willing to make the long-term time commitment. As a result, many patients who could get relief from immunotherapy never receive it benefits.
However, with rapid desensitization, the effective shot dose can be achieved in the first day instead of several months. This is what makes this procedure so exciting. Dr. Smits' research shows that this treatment is safe and effective, as well as quick. Since 1996 Dr. Smits has collaborated with J.T. Inglefield of Hickory, North Carolina, and the two of them have been able to treat over 2,000 patients, each in a single day, with almost immediate improvement of symptoms.
Patients no longer have to suffer for months with allergy symptoms while waiting for conventional allergy shots to start working. Since immunotherapy often results in long-term improvement in symptoms by changing the patient's immunity, rapid desensitization may even offer a cure for some patients with allergies.
Rapid desensitization holds great promise for the one out of every five Americans who suffer from allergies. Dr. Smits has even performed the procedure on his own family members.
Immunotherapy ("allergy shots") is the administration of gradually increasing amounts of an allergic material to a patient over a period of time. This process helps the body to become immune to the very things it was allergic to. Initially, a patient receives a shot on a weekly basis for several months until a maintenance dose is achieved. Then, the interval is gradually decreased to every other week and then once a month. A course of five years is usually recommended. However, rapid desensitization is used to speed up this process. Rapid Desensitization allows for several months of build-up to be completed in one day. A response can be seen in some patients almost immediately.
As mentioned above, during immunotherapy the body becomes immune to the things it was once allergic to. This occurs in two ways. First, the body becomes desensitized (or more accustomed) to the allergen. Second, the body learns how to make protective antibodies that work against the allergen, similar to how a vaccination works.
Immunotherapy is recommended when:
- Medications fail
- Symptoms are intolerable
- Illness is moderate to severe
- Avoiding the allergen is very difficult (such as dust in the workplace or a family pet)
Dr. Smits' Research
Since 1996, Dr. Smits and Dr. Inglefield have been doing a joint research project on rapid desensitization also called Rapid Allergen Vaccination or Rush Immunotherapy. They have presented their findings on rapid desensitization at the national meeting o f the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology on a yearly basis.
Since 1998, Dr. Smits and Dr. Inglefield have received a variety of media coverage on their research and practice of the rapid desensitization procedure. This coverage has included several articles in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette and News-Sentinel newspapers, television stories on Fort Wayne's NBC, CBS, and ABC affiliates, and stories on three Northeast Indiana radio stations, as well as national coverage.