Allergen immunotherapy may modify the natural course of allergic diseases and induce remission. It includes subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). For asthma, allergen immunotherapy using house dust mite (HDM) improves clinical symptoms and airway hyperresponsiveness and decreases drug requirements. Furthermore, it has been suggested that allergen immunotherapy also has the following effects: (1) the effect can be maintained for more than a year even if the treatment is terminated, (2) the remission rate of childhood asthma can be increased, (3) new allergen sensitization can be suppressed, and (4) asthma development can be prevented if allergen immunotherapy was performed in the case of pollinosis. Allergen immunotherapy differs from conventional drug therapy, in particular the effect of modifying the natural course of allergic diseases and the effect of controlling complicated allergic diseases such as rhinoconjunctivitis. The general indication for HDM-SCIT in asthma is HDM-sensitized atopic asthma with mild-to-moderate disease and normal respiratory function. HDM allergens should be involved in the pathogenesis of asthma, and a duration of illness of less than 10 years is desirable. HDM-SLIT is available for allergic rhinitis but not for asthma in Japan. However, as the efficacy of SLIT for asthma has been fully proven internationally, SLIT is also applied in asthmatics with complicated allergic rhinitis in Japan.
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