Allergy Drops: What is Sublingual Immunotherapy?

April 03, 2014
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Sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, is a form of immunotherapy that involves putting drops of allergen extracts
under the tongue. Many people refer to this process as “allergy drops,” and it is an alternative treatment for allergy
shots. This form of immunotherapy has been used for years in Europe and recently has had increased interest in the
United States.

Allergy drops entail placing drops of allergen extracts under than tongue and then swallowing the extract. It allows
the body to eventually become tolerant of the allergen by absorbing the allergen through the stomach lining.
One of the significant benefits of allergy drops is that the patient can take the drops at home. Patients may know if
they are getting benefits from the drops within three to six months. The drops are administered daily over a period
of months to years.

Allergy drops have been proven to work for allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis (hayfever like symptoms) and
to a lesser extent allergic asthma. It is commonly prescribed in Europe to treat those ailments.
What is the Safety of Allergy Drops?

Over the past 10 years, the safety of SLIT has been well documented. Serious and fatal reactions to SLIT have not
been reported to date. Mild side effects, such as an itchy mouth, occur in the majority of people, and moderate side
effects have been documented (1 in about every 12,000 doses), including:

• lip, mouth and tongue irritation
• eye itching, redness and swelling
• nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and diarrhea
• sneezing, nasal itching and congestion
• asthma symptoms
• hives or swelling

Because of the safety of SLIT, people generally treat themselves at home, and are followed in the clinic at close
intervals to monitor response to treatment.

Allergy Shots versus Allergy Drops?

Allergy shots have been around in the U.S. for many years and numerous studies have proven its benefit. Studies
now are just starting on allergy drops in the U.S. and we await those results. Therefore, allergy shots are FDA
approved in which allergy drops are not. There are still some questions on the correct dosages and the mixing of
allergens together. Still, it is well prescribed in Europe and is an excellent option for those who cannot be on allergy
injections due to time constraints, needle phobia, or medications that may prevent allergy shots.

If you are symptomatic on medication, environmental changes and allergy shots are not an option, then consider
allergy drops.

For any questions, please ask Dr. Chacko or a member of his staff

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Dr. Chacko and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN. See the video here.