Allergens and antigens are substances that drive an allergy sufferer crazy and they’re hard to avoid. Most allergy drugs only treat the symptoms, such as sneezing or itchy and watery eyes. Additionally, allergy drugs only relieve symptoms on a temporary basis.
At St. Louis Sinus Center, we have a better solution. This solution is sublingual and subcutaneous immunotherapy, more commonly known as allergy drops and allergy shots. Immunotherapy addresses the underlying cause of your allergies instead of simply resolving the symptoms.
What Is Immunotherapy for Allergies?
Immunotherapy gives the allergy sufferer a minimal dose of what he or she is allergic to through a drop or tablet placed under the tongue. During treatment, a patient’s dose will increase in small increments until they develop a tolerance to the substance causing the allergy.
What Are Allergy Drops?
Allergy drops, clinically known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), are delivered in small doses under the tongue in the form of drops or tablets. Over 20 years of clinical trials and surveys published, allergy drops have proven to be effective for rhinitis and asthma caused by allergies to dust mites, grass, ragweed, cat dander, and tree pollens. Additionally, they are being studied for use with hay fever and food allergies.
How Do Allergy Drops Work?
After allergy testing, Dr. Gould will prepare an allergen extract in drop or tablet form. Patients will place the drop under their tongue and advised not to swallow immediately. The patient should keep the tablet under the tongue for 1-2 minutes so that it fully dissolves. They then repeat this from three days a week to as often as daily. This therapy continues for 3-5 years during which the patient develops a lasting immunity.
How Do Allergy Drops Compare with Allergy Shots?
Allergy drops and tablets represent a newer form of immunotherapy. The FDA had approved the content of allergy drops before they had approved allergy drops altogether. This changed in 2017 with the first FDA approval of Odactra, the first sublingual treatment for dust mite allergies. Currently, allergy drops are given “off-label,” but this is not unusual in the early stages of a drug’s debut. It’s assumed more approvals will follow.
The main difference between the drops and shots, however, is easy. You don’t have to get a shot in the arm with allergy drops. That’s a big one, especially for children. Also, allergy drops can be administered at home after the initial treatment.
Allergy Drops Candidates
If you’re allergic to pollens, pet dander, grasses, dust mites, and other typical allergens, allergy drops could be effective for heading off the itchy eyes and other irritating symptoms.
Benefits of Allergy Drops
Immunotherapy offerings, such as allergy drops, are effective solutions for allergies. While drops may not cover all possible allergens, they cover most. Their approach is to treat the root cause of the allergy, rather than simply dealing with the symptoms.
Allergy drops are used with the goal in mind of exposing the patient to the allergen in small doses. Then, gradually increasing the amount over time. In time, the patient allergy immunity will build up.
Risks of Immunotherapy drops
The risks of allergy drops seem to be mostly local and mild. They occur early in the treatment and can include issues such as itching in the mouth or stomach problems. Adjusting the dosages, via a prescription from professional allergist Dr. Gould, seems to curtail these. Very rarely has anaphylactic shock been reported.
Another potential risk of allergy drops is that they are administered at home without direct medical supervision. But, as long as the patient listens to the guidance our office provides on managing adverse reactions and heeds those instructions, the lack of direct supervision doesn’t need to be a big issue.
How Long Does It Take Immunotherapy to Calm My Allergies?
These allergy drops are best when thought of as a preventative measure. How effective the drops are immediately is variable by the patient. Just know that this isn’t an instant remedy for an allergen, such as tree pollen, that you were exposed to yesterday. This is a long-term effort to build tolerance and immunity.