When children suffer from dust mite induced allergies and asthma, finding relief can seem impossible. While there isn't a complete cure for childhood respiratory allergies, researchers have found that long term control of allergic asthma can occur after only three years of allergy shots.
According to a new study, published in the October issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), long-term relief can be achieved by administering immunotherapy for three years.
"The recommended duration of immunotherapy for long-term effectiveness has been three to five years," said Iwona Stelmach, MD, PhD, lead study author. "Our research shows that three years is an adequate duration for the treatment of childhood asthma associated with house dust mites. An additional two years adds no clinical benefit."
Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, can alter the progression of allergic disease. The treatment alleviates patients of symptoms, while preventing asthma and the development of other allergies. The study also found that 50 percent of children with asthma due to dust mites experienced remission after three years of treatment with greatly reduced or no controller medications need at that point.
"It has long been observed that the effectiveness of allergy shots continue long after treatment has been completed," said allergist James Sublett, MD, chair of the ACAAI Indoor Environment Committee. "This study is among the first to look at the benefits of different lengths of therapy. Not only does it provide long-term therapeutic benefits for both children and adults, it can reduce total healthcare costs by 33 to 41 percent."
High levels of exposure to dust mites are a factor in the development of asthma in children. Allergic children react to proteins within the bodies and feces of the mites. These particles are found mostly in pillows, mattresses, carpeting, stuffed animals and upholstered furniture. There may be as many as 19,000 dust mites in one gram of dust.
Mites eat particles of skin and dander, so they thrive in places where there are people and animals. This can make relieving symptoms particularly difficult without the use of immunotherapy.