Sublingual Immunotherapy: New, No-Shot Allergy Treatment
July 11, 2016
Our patients know that immunotherapy treatments are nothing to sneeze at. Unlike most allergy drugs – which only treat symptoms temporarily – immunotherapy addresses the underlying cause of allergies through desensitization. In addition to allergy shots, available at all of our locations, BreatheAmerica will now be offering Sublingual Immunotherapy to help our patients breathe easier.
What is Sublingual Immunotherapy?
This new form of allergy immunotherapy, also referred to as SLIT, was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for grass pollen and ragweed allergies. Rather than shots, the allergy tablets involve administering the allergens in a tablet form under the tongue on a daily basis until the patient develops a tolerance to the allergy-causing substance.
This treatment has been shown to provide long-term improvement, even after treatment has ended, in controlling the symptoms of the selected antigen, or allergy-causing substance.
How is this different from Allergy Shots?
Allergy treatment using shots (also known as subcutaneous immunotherapy or SCIT) calls for two phases. The first phase involves frequent injections of increasing amounts of allergen extract. This is followed by a maintenance phase, during which the injections are given about once a month. Although allergy shots can be very effective at controlling symptoms of an allergy, the schedule can be difficult to maintain.
By contrast, SLIT therapy can be given at home and there is no buildup phase required, eliminating extra trips to the doctor. This is possible because allergy tablets have a more favorable safety profile than shots, which is why they can be prescribed for home use.
Is SLIT allergy treatment from BreatheAmerica right for you?
You and your board-certified allergist/immunologist should base your decision on:
- Desire to avoid long-term medication use
- Availability for treatment
- Length of allergy season and severity of your symptoms
- How well medication and/or environmental controls are helping your symptoms
- Cost, dependent on region and insurance coverage
What are the risks?
Most clinical trials and surveys published over at least 20 years show that Sublingual Immunotherapy is relatively safe and effective, with minimal side effects. In general, SLIT risks relate to the nature of the treatment: it is administered at home and without direct medical supervision. Patients should therefore receive clear guidance from their BreatheAmerica allergist on recognizing and managing adverse reactions, allergy treatment interruptions, and when to consult the prescribing allergist.
Interested? We can’t blame you! Please request an appointment for allergy testing and an evaluation at BreatheAmerica to see if you or your loved one are likely to benefit from Sublingual Immunotherapy and continued relief from your worst allergy symptoms!