Newswise — Dana Wallace, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), and Linda Cox, MD, an allergy and immunology expert, are available to comment on the latest guidelines for allergy shots (immunotherapy). Dr. Cox, a chief author of the update, is associate clinical professor of medicine, Nova Southeastern University, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and immediate past chair of the ACAAI Immunotherapy and Diagnostics Committee. Dr. Wallace is an assistant clinical professor at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla.

Allergists, doctors who are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma, have specialty training in the appropriate use of immunotherapy, a treatment that involves periodic injections with tiny amounts of an allergen to build up immunity over time. Immunotherapy can actually cure your allergy and has been an effective treatment for 100 years. Allergies affect an estimated 40 million to 50 million people in the United States.

Some highlights of the new guidelines:• New approaches to immunotherapy such as “rush” and “cluster” therapy can shorten the time needed for the treatment to be effective, reducing the course of treatment from months to weeks.• There are no age restrictions for immunotherapy in children and the elderly. • Although widely used, there is no evidence that immunotherapy for cockroach allergy is effective.• Immunotherapy should be considered for some people with allergic dermatitis (an allergic reaction to certain substances that come in contact with the skin) and for patients who have large allergic reactions at the site of insect stings.

Allergen Immunotherapy: A Practice Parameter Third Update was developed by ACAAI and other members of the Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Several ACAAI member allergists recently participated in a roundtable discussion on immunotherapy and are available to comment on the new guidelines as well.