Allergy Treatment Using Sublingual Immunotherapy
What is sublingual immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses of what a person is allergic to, thus increasing “immunity” or tolerance to the allergen and reducing allergic symptoms. Unlike injection immunotherapy, which is given as shots, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is taken as drops under the tongue and is done at the patients convenience in their own home.
How does the process work?
The first step is to confirm a patient’s allergies through allergy testing which is done at our office. This is commonly referred to as “scratch testing”. From the information gained from the scratch testing, a custom-mixed vial of drops is prepared for the patient. The patient takes the drops under the tongue once a day.
Is sublingual immunotherapy safe?
It is safe, for both adults and children. Patients take the drops in the convenience of their own homes instead of going to the doctor’s office every week for shots. The World Health Organization has determined that SLIT is a viable, effective alternative to injection immunotherapy for allergic diseases. Most patients prefer doing SLIT to injection therapy as it is less painful and less invasive into their schedule. In addition, it it an easier option for children as the treatment does not require frequent trips to the doctor for shots.
How long does it take to work?
Many patients start to notice a reduction in allergy symptoms within the first couple of months after starting SLIT. We work with the patients helping them to decrease and then discontinue their allergy medications as they feel ready to. The length of time before all allergy symptoms resolve depends on the allergic tendency of the patient. Most people complete the treatment course within 16 months.
How do I start sublingual immunotherapy?
Call North Seattle Natural Medicine (206.629.5180) for allergy testing and an evaluation to see if you are likely to benefit from sublingual immunotherapy.
What are the costs? Will it be covered by insurance?
Most insurance plans will cover the initial testing (scratch testing) and follow up visits. The medication itself is considered an FDA "off-label" use and is an out of pocket expense. It is important to note that when compared with the cost of allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy may be a more economical choice. The cost for SLIT drops is approximately $2.00 per day, less than a cup of coffee.