In the US, physicians have diagnosed over 12 million cases of allergic rhinitis or hay fever. And more than 3 million people are living with a contact dermatitis diagnosis.
Are you one of them? Then it’s about time you heard about sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) for allergies. This novel treatment has over 63 studies supporting its benefits as an allergy medicine.
If you’re tired of allergy shots and want to eliminate your allergy symptoms once and for all, this article is for you. Keep reading for everything you need to know about sublingual immunotherapy allergy drops.
What Is Sublingual Immunotherapy for Allergies?
Sublingual means under the tongue. And immunotherapy refers to treatments doctors use to stimulate the immune system. So, sublingual immunotherapy is an immune-boosting treatment administered under the tongue.
According to research studies, sublingual immunotherapy can be beneficial for treating allergy symptoms.
Who Is Sublingual Immunotherapy For?
Immunotherapy is ideal for people suffering from environmental allergies. This includes people diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, and eye allergies (conjunctivitis). Immunotherapy also benefits stinging insect allergies.
You may prefer sublingual immunotherapy, in particular, if you hate needles. Sublingual immunotherapy for allergies is an excellent alternative to traditional allergy shots.
Do Allergy Drops Under the Tongue Really Work?
A 2017 systematic overview reviewed studies of SLIT for allergies. This study found “moderate to strong” evidence of immunotherapy’s benefits for allergies.
Specifically, sublingual treatments may significantly reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. Allergy drops may also decrease medication requirements for some people.
Other studies have shown a sublingual immunotherapy success rate of 40% or more. The most common allergens sublingual immunotherapy can help with include:
- Cat dander
- Dust mites
There’s also emerging evidence that immunotherapy may combat food allergy-related mild eczema.
Is Sublingual Immunotherapy Safe?
Studies show that sublingual immunotherapy is safe for adults and kids with allergies. However, both injection and sublingual immunotherapy present the risk of side effects.
The most common allergy sublingual immunotherapy side effects are local site reactions. For example, some people experience itching under the tongue. And other allergy drop users have reported stomach irritation.
In rare cases, more severe side effects are possible from immunotherapy. There is a slight risk of anaphylaxis with all immunotherapy treatments. Yet, this side effect is more common with allergy shots than SLIT.
This is why we recommend seeing a qualified healthcare professional for immunotherapy. And this is especially the case if it’s your first time.
Once you receive guidance from your provider, you can feel confident self-administering at home.
How Does Sublingual Immunotherapy Work?
Sublingual immunotherapy works by exposing your immune system to small doses of allergens. The exact allergen included in your sublingual drops will depend on what you’re allergic to.
The first step to getting sublingual immunotherapy is an allergy test. Your healthcare provider will want to confirm what you’re allergic to. Then, a pharmacy can formulate the right drops for you.
To administer immunotherapy drops, you place the directed amount under your tongue. Let the drops stay in your mouth for 1–2 minutes before swallowing. That way, the medication can absorb into your sublingual gland (the salivary gland located under your tongue).
Your doctor will likely prescribe sublingual drops three days a week at first. A doctor will recommend daily administration for some people. Over time, using these drops will build up your natural immunity to allergens.
Some doctors prescribe an escalation phase followed by a maintenance phase. During the escalation phase, you’ll take increasingly larger doses of your allergy drops. After four months, you enter the maintenance phase, in which you’ll administer the same dose every day for the duration of your treatment.
How often you use your sublingual medication will vary depending on your allergies. For example, if you have seasonal allergies, you may only use your drops during allergy season. People with, say, dust mite allergies, though, would more likely use their drops all year round.
How Long Does It Take Sublingual Immunotherapy to Work?
How long sublingual immunotherapy takes to work depends on the patient. You can generally expect to see results in three to six months. However, some people report allergy improvements within weeks of their first treatment.
How Long Does Sublingual Immunotherapy Treatment Last?
Doctors typically recommend using immunotherapy drops for up to five years. Continuing treatment for three to five years may encourage long-term immunity to allergens.
How Much Does Sublingual Immunotherapy Cost?
As of this writing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve the use of sublingual immunotherapies. This means doctors must prescribe allergy drops for off-label use.
And why does that matter? Most insurance policies don’t cover off-label medications. That means you’ll have to pay out of pocket for your treatments.
There is good news, though. Allergy shots typically cost an average of $800 per year, even with insurance. Compare that to the $2 per day average cost of allergy drops, and you can see why many people don’t mind paying out of pocket for sublingual immunotherapy.
Get Rid of Your Allergies For Good With SLIT
Sublingual immunotherapy is a safe and effective alternative to allergy shots. Research has shown that this treatment can reduce allergy symptoms. In the long term, it may eliminate allergic reactions altogether in some people.
Do allergy drops sound too good to be true? Then it’s time you tried them for yourself. Schedule an appointment with the Desert Wellness Clinic in Arizona to see the truth about SLIT for yourself!