Frequently asked questions about sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) – Allergy Drops
Lower cost, fewer clinic visits.
Compared to shots, allergy drops cost less and require fewer clinic visits. Most patients receiving allergy drops need only a few clinic visits the first year, and once every 6-12 months thereafter until visits are no longer needed.
More convenient, fewer medications.
You can take allergy drops at home or wherever you need to be, making it much easier to stick with treatment. And many patients find they need less medication to control symptoms after beginning allergy drops.
More healthy days.
The end benefit is simply feeling better. Our patients typically report fewer clinic visits and hospitalizations, as well as less time lost from work and school, after taking their drops consistently.
In fact, the World Health Organization has endorsed sublingual immunotherapy as a viable alternative to injection therapy.
The well-respected Cochrane Collaboration, the world’s most-trusted international organization dedicated to reviewing healthcare treatments, recently concluded allergy drop immunotherapy significantly reduced allergy symptoms and use of allergy medications.
The safety profile for sublingual immunotherapy is superior to injection based on research studies and patient treatment experience. Systemic reactions occur 3x less with sublingual, and there has never been and anaphylactic reaction (life threatening) recorded over the 30+ years of sublingual treatment.
Compliance has not been studied extensively. However, one large managed-care organization did find 50% of patients receiving allergy shots dropped out of therapy during the first year. In looking at sublingual compliance among patients in many of the studies identified previously, approximately 90% of patients complete their treatment.
Our first step is to confirm which allergies are present and how severe they are. Patient history plays a large role here. Skin testing is used to confirm suspected allergies. We often use intradermal skin tests to help the physician assess how severe the allergy may be. In vitro (blood) testing may be used to identify food and inhalant allergies.
Once allergies are confirmed, we help patients find ways to avoid allergens by suggesting changes in diet and lifestyle when possible.
To help reduce symptoms, you might be prescribed medications, such as non-sedating antihistamines and nose sprays. As treatment continues, most patients find their need for medication decreases.
Allergy drops, customized for the patient’s specific allergies, helps alter the disease state so that eventually, allergic reactions are no longer a problem. With allergy drops, patients are able to be treated at home. Your physician will monitor your progress throughout your care. Several antigens may be in one vial. Possible treatment regimens include:
- Preseasonal treatment. This is a quick build up of antigen weeks prior to an "allergy season." Treatment continues during the season using a maintenance dose. Common treatments are for spring grasses, trees and ragweed.
- Threshold dosing. Allergies to dust, molds and foods require an ongoing build up of antigen, followed by a maintenance or threshold dose schedule.
- Anaphylaxis Treatment. This is, of course a very careful and slow treatment guided by in vitro specific IgE levels (blood testing) or intradermal skin testing. Doses are increased only when we see sensitivity to the allergen decrease. To ensure your safety, the first dose is given in our office.