Medical Treatment Options
Patients with chronic allergies that do not respond to medication allergy treamtents may opt for a long-term treatment plan in which gradually increasing doses of allergen are introduced to the body in order to build up tolerance. This is accomplished either through allergy shots or oral drops. In standard immunotherapy, an extract of the allergen responsible for your symptoms is prepared and delivered via an injection to your upper arm once a week. The dosage is small at first, allowing your body to gradually become desensitized, but is increased over time until a maintenance level is reached. At this point, your shots will be given once a week in the office, or you can self administer at home. It will take your body up to 5 years to build up full immunity. Treatment is FDA-approved and highly effective.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) operates under the same principle, but instead of injections you are given an extract of the allergen in drop (or tablet) form to place beneath your tongue for a minute or two before swallowing. Although this version of immunotherapy treatment is not yet FDA-approved in the U.S., it is considered safe and effective, and is popular in many European and Asian countries. There are several benefits to SLIT vs. traditional immunotherapy: fewer visits to the allergist’s office, the ability to self-administer, and a lower incidence of side effects or complications.