Sublingual immunotherapy (Drops) is the name given to allergy vaccines that are administered orally. Sublingual immunotherapy is a treatment option for decreasing your allergic sensitivity to allergy-causing substances so that exposure to the offending allergen (pollen, mold, mites, animal danders, etc.) will result in fewer and less severe symptoms. Allergy drops are used in conjunction with, or as a supplement to, avoidance of known allergens and the use of allergy medications.
Sublingual immunotherapy has been identified as leading to an alteration of your immune system’s response to naturally occurring allergens. These alterations may permit you to tolerate exposure to the allergen with fewer symptoms. You, in effect, become “immune” to the allergen. The amount of this immunization is different for each person and is, therefore, somewhat unpredictable. It is generally recognized that sublingual immunotherapy may be somewhat less effective than allergy shot immunotherapy, but also that it has some distinct advantages, such as being a safer alternative.
Who should take drops?
Although most allergy sufferers can benefit from allergy drops, they’re especially ideal for people who can’t tolerate or don’t respond to allergy shots, as well as people who are unable to commit to allergy shot therapy.
How Is Sublingual Immunotherapy Done and What is the Duration of the Treatment?
With sublingual immunotherapy, your allergist furnishes you with vials containing allergen vaccine and you are instructed on the number of drops, as well as the number of times per day, that the allergy drops will be placed under your tongue. The drops are to be applied under the tongue and held there for two minutes. The drops are then swallowed. If two vials are necessary, due to the number of antigens being treated, the drops can be applied sequentially, or separated, with one vial administered in the morning, and the second vial administered in the evening.
Unlike allergy shots, you will most likely take the treatment (other than perhaps the first dose or two from each set of vials) in your home rather than in one of our offices. It is recommended that you take your doses during our office hours so that our staff will be available to speak with you if any concerns arise. The escalation phase of sublingual immunotherapy is quite short compared to shot immunotherapy. The average escalation time is around 2 or more months, in most cases, and then you will continue on maintenance doses for 3-5 years. Even though sublingual immunotherapy has demonstrated good safety for inhalant allergens, appropriate caution is still advised.
What are the advantages of allergy drops?
In addition to being a viable option for people of all ages, there are other advantages to allergy drops.
- Lower cost, fewer office visits.
- Compared to allergy shots, allergy drops typically cost less and require fewer office visits. Most patients receiving allergy drops need only a few office visits the first year, and once every 6-12 months thereafter until visits are no longer needed.
- More convenient. You can take allergy drops at home or wherever you need to be, making it much easier to stay with your treatment.
- Less medication.