Northside Allergy Associates Newsletter July 2011
Jul 22, 2011
Sublingual Immunotherapy: An alternative to allergy shots
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a method of treating allergies by desensitizing individuals to allergens over time (1). Unlike medications, which only treat the symptoms, immunotherapy treats the underlying cause of allergies. The goal of SLIT is that the patient will develop a tolerance to the allergens that are in the serum.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is similar to subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), also known as allergy shots. With both methods, the allergies are treated with low doses of allergens in order to train the body not to react to them. The difference being that SLIT is a method of treatment that uses drops given under the tongue, rather than injections. SLIT is often called allergy drops. Allergy drops are less intrusive than allergy shots, and are therefore more tolerable, especially for children.
Although it may seem to be fairly new treatment option in the United States, SLIT has actually been in practice since the early 1900s (1). SLIT gained wide acceptance in the United States during the late 1990s. SLIT has an excellent safety profile and is generally considered safer than allergy shots. In 1998 the World Health Organization concluded that SLIT was a viable alternative to allergy injections and that its use in clinical practice is justified (1).
Allergy drops are given under the tongue daily. They can be given at home. The dose is gradually increased over the first 10 days, and then the patient will reach their maintenance dose. With allergy shots, it can take the patient a year to reach the maintenance dose.
At this time, SLIT is not covered by insurance. However, since it is much easier to administer and is generally done at home, SLIT is often cheaper and more convenient for patients when compared to SCIT. The patient reduces his/her out of pocket expenses in the form of co-payments, travel, and time missed from work or school (2).
Combiths, S. (2011). Sublingual immunotherapy offers hope of a cure for allergies. Retrieved July 8, 2011 from http://www.achooallergy.com/slit-allergy-cure.asp
Garcia-Ibanez, R. & Pollina, D. (2008). Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) in a standard American allergy practice. The Internet Journal of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, Volume 6(2).
For more information found in our newsletter, use the above link to the Northside Allergy Associates Newsletter July 2011.