Providing Treatment Options for Allergies that Affect Patient's Nose and Sinuses
SLIT (Sublingual immunotherapy) is a longer lasting treatment for allergies and allergic asthma. Like "allergy shots," patients are given very dilute, oral doses of the allergens that trigger their allergy symptoms. However, unlike "allergy shots," the doses are given in the mouth, under the tongue. The dosage of allergens is gradually increased over time - enough to stimulate the immune system, but not enough to cause full blown allergic reactions. Most people respond well to SLIT, noticing their allergy symptoms increasingly diminish over the course of treatment as the body's immune system is re-trained and desensitized to offending allergens
Conventional allergy medications, like antihistamines and inhaled/nasal steroids, are designed to only mask allergy symptoms temporarily, and require life-long use. These medications are costly and may have long-term side-effects. In contrast, SLIT treats the underlying cause of allergy symptoms by desensitizing the body's immune system so that it does not "overreact" to allergens. The goal of SLIT is to eliminate or reduce the need to take allergy medications.
The most common allergies treated with SLIT include allergic Rhinitis (Hayfever), Allergic conjunctivitis (itchy/watery eyes), and allergic asthma
SLIT and allergy shots are similar in that both aim to desensitize the immune system to offending allergens. One of the main differences is that SLIT delivers the allergen doses orally without the use of a syringe, while allergy shot doses are usually delivered in the arm, in the same way you would receive a vaccine.
Allergy shots must be administered in a physician's office, and require weekly visits for up to three years.
SLIT requires far fewer office visits as most of the doses can be taken by the patient at home. Typically, patients will only need to come in for an office visit for the first dose in each treatment phase.
Although SLIT is not covered by insurance, there are significantly fewer office visits and copays. Taking time off from work and travel to and from the doctor's office is substantially reduced as well
Before considering SLIT as an option for your allergy symptoms, allergy testing must be performed to accurately identify and confirm your specific allergic triggers. Allergy testing is performed in the office with a skin test.
SLIT is an off-label use of allergen extracts, which have only been FDA approved for use in subcutaneous immunotherapy.
The safety of SLIT is well documented in the medical research literature, and has been in use throughout the world for over 60 years. Although uncommon, the side effects associated with SLIT include mild oral itching, which usually self-resolves.
SLIT is contraindicated for patients with unstable coronary artery disease, autoimmune disease, unstable asthma, asthma having peak flow of FEV1 below 80% of predicted value, patients under 5 years of age, patients using beta blockers, severe psychological disorders and pregnant women.
Talk to your Doctor to discuss all of the risks and benefits of SLIT