Immunotherapy: Standard Build-Up vs. “Rush” Build-Up

Provided by David Hauswirth, MD

What is the difference between immunotherapy (IT) and rush immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is a treatment for allergies.  The patient is given gradually increasing doses of a substance they are allergic to, trying to make them tolerant or not allergic.  For all types, the length of treatment is the same, typically 3-5 years.  The difference between “rush” and traditional immunotherapy is the buildup phase.  There are typically two phases to immunotherapy, build-up and maintenance. 

With “rush” immunotherapy, the build-up is accomplished in a rapid fashion.  Usually the patient will come into the office for a half or a whole day and receive many shots trying to build up more quickly.  There is a much higher risk of a systemic reaction with this type of treatment.  Rush is different from traditional build-up with weekly injections.  A third type is cluster immunotherapy with the patient receiving a few shots each visit trying to build a little faster.

Does rush immunotherapy work better than immunotherapy?

All of the immunotherapy styles have the same efficacy.  The only difference is how quickly you reach the maintenance dose.  A patient on rush, a patient on cluster and a patient on traditional immunotherapy will still be on the treatment for 3-5 years and will have the same outcome, regardless of the build-up schedule.