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Immunol Lett. 2009 Feb 21;122(2):131-3. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2008.11.012. Epub 2008 Dec 25.

Allergen-specific immunotherapy.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Allergy is a significant health problem in industrialized countries and its prevalence is continually on the increase: In 1906, when Clemens von Pirquet introduced the term "allergy" to describe overwhelming pathological reactions of the body caused by contact with antigens, less than 1% of the population were affected. Today, more than 25% of the inhabitants of industrialized countries suffer from allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, asthma, dermatitis or food allergies. Allergic symptoms can be alleviated using corticosteroids, antihistamines, cromones, decongestants, antimuscarinics or leukotrien antagonists. However, only immunotherapy is able to change the course of allergic disease and to lead to a long-term improvement which is sustained years after the discontinuation of this treatment.

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