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The treatment is by injecting gradually increasing doses of the allergen to which the patient is allergic. By increasing the dosage very gradually, the immune system may then get the opportunity to "learn" to react correctly when exposed to the allergen in question. The treatment seems to work by inducing the formation of "blocking antibodies" of the IgG4 subclass, which prevent the allergen from triggering an allergic reaction.
The injection programme usually carries on for a period of three to five years. In the initial phase, the dosage is gradually increased from a very low initial value. Typically, the total increase of dosage may by a factor of 1:10000.
This treatment has been shown to work well in cases of allergy to tree and grass pollen, mites and insect stings. There is a small risk that the injection of allergen will itself cause a severe allergic reaction, and in most countries it is recommended that the treatment is carried out where facilities for cardiopulmonary resuscitation are available.
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