Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is being used more and more in the United States for allergic rhinitis symptoms. Allergic rhinitis is a common condition affecting up to 500 million persons worldwide. Allergic rhinitis is often under treated and perceived as a mild disease by physicians. However allergies can have a a substantial adverse effect on quality of life, emotional health, work and school performance and sleep characteristics. Allergy immunotherapy has been demonstrated to reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis. In contrast to medications, immunotherapy can produce long-lasting symptom relief for up to several years after treatment is completed. Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) are daily alternatives to allergy shots.
Antihistamines, singulair and nasal steroids are the most common medications used to treat allergies. There hasn’t been many studies comparing immunotherapy vs. medications. In a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Sublingual immunotherapy was compared with allergy medications to treat seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis.
The results of the study showed that Sublingual immunotherapy showed greater improvement in allergic rhinitis symptoms and also had the advantage of long-lasting therapeutic benefits.
Currently there are sublingual tablets for grass and ragweed, there are studies underway for sublingual immunotherapy tablets for house dust mite and it has recently been approved in Europe. Sublingual drops are also available, but they are currently non-FDA approved as they are being used off label. Sublingual immunotherapy drops can also be given for tree pollen, grass pollen, weed pollen, dust mites, cat dander, dog dander, mold and others are available too from an allergists office.
If you do suffer from allergies and do not want to take medications for prolonged periods of time, speak to your allergy doctor whether you would be a good candidate for allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) or if they offer sublingual immunotherapy. Sublingual immunotherapy has the benefit of being able to do it home and not having to visit the allergists office, weekly or biweekly.