answers
What are allergy drops?
McCool Bhuta ENT

Sublingual Immunotherapy

What is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)?
Immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses of what a person is allergic to, which increases tolerance, or decreases sensitivity to the allergen and reduces the allergic symptoms. Unlike injection immunotherapy, which is given as shots, sublingual immunotherapy is given as drops under the tongue. The goal of treatment is to cure patients of their allergy related symptoms.


How does the process work?
The first step is to confirm a patient’s allergies through allergy testing. Then, a custom-mixed vial of drops is prepared for the patient. The patient takes drops under the tongue daily. The purpose of treatment is to give patients small doses of allergens in order to train the body not to react to its triggers. During the first four to six months, called the “escalation or build-up phase,” the dosage is gradually increased. After that, in the “maintenance phase,” the patient takes the same dose of drops each day. Although the full course of treatment can last years, many patients report improvement in their symptoms after just a few months.


Is sublingual immunotherapy safe?
It is very safe, for both adults and children. Patients take the drops in the convenience of their own homes instead of going to the doctor’s office every week for shots. The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed sublingual immunotherapy as a safe, effective, and viable alternative to injection immunotherapy. SLIT is widely accepted and used in European, South American, and Asian countries as well as in Australia and is gaining interest in the United States. Serious, fatal reactions have not been reported with SLIT. Mild side effects, such as an itchy mouth, occur in the majority of people. Other, less common, side effects include lip, mouth and tongue irritation; eye itching, redness and swelling; nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping; and sneezing, nasal itching and congestion.


Does it work?
Many published scientific studies have shown that it significantly reduces allergy symptoms.


How long must I continue the treatment?
We recommend that patients keep using the drops for three to five years so that the body will build up a lasting “tolerance.” However, patients report symptom improvement after just a few months.


What are the costs? Will it be covered by insurance?
Most insurance plans do not cover sublingual immunotherapy. It is considered an FDA "off-label" use. It is important to note that when compared with the cost of allergy shots and medications, sublingual immunotherapy may be a more convenient and economical choice.

 

 

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