Myth Or Fact: Drops By Mouth May Beat Allergies

Do you suffer from annoying allergies? Hay fever? Food allergies? About 40 percent of us have allergies to some degree.

Allergy symptoms are caused by your body’s immune system. It mistakes a usually harmless allergen for an unwanted invader in your body. Your body responds to the false alarm. The reaction creates symptoms like runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes.

Allergy shots may help reduce symptoms. Shots received about weekly for years build up your immunity to your allergen.

Not crazy about shots? Oral allergy drops are an option.

What Are Allergy Drops?

Many individuals with allergies can accomplish the same results as allergy shots. The alternative is allergy drops.

You’ll regularly place a small amount of your allergen under your tongue. The allergy drops include the same purified form of your allergen (also called your antigen) as a shot would.

The allergy drop treatment is called sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Sublingual means under the tongue. Immunotherapy helps bolster your immune system. SLIT has been used in Europe for years and now is becoming common in the U.S.

With sublingual immunotherapy. you’ll receive allergy drops weekly as prescribed by your doctor. How long it takes will depend on your allergies.

If you’re allergic to foods, grasses, ragweed, dust mites, pollen or mold, that will be the substance in your drops. Over time, an increasing exposure to the extract of your allergen helps build up your immunity.

The World Health Organization has endorsed SLIT as an effective alternative to allergy shots. The FDA is reviewing sublingual immunotherapy for use with different substances. Discuss with your primary care provider the appropriate use of SLIT for you.

Facts About Allergy Drops

  • They may allow you to skip years of shots!
  • The therapy produced upwards of a 40 percent reduction in coughing, wheezing and chest tightness caused by allergies compared to other treatments such as inhaled steroids and antihistamines.
  • Allergy drops also produced a 40 percent reduction in runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion.
  • You can take allergy drops at home. Since allergy shots are typically administered at a provider’s office, you save travel and office time.
  • Allergy drops typically cost less and require fewer clinic visits.
  • Patients report they need less medication to control their symptoms after starting the drops.

If you have allergies, ask your health care provider about the benefits and limitations of allergy drops, and if they’re right for you. My office at Aurora Health Center Racine West is among the locations where allergy drops are available for appropriate patients.

Sublingual allergy drops may not be appropriate for all sufferers with allergic rhino conjunctivitis and allergic asthma. Not all health insurance plans will cover allergy drops.

If allergy drops aren’t right for you, ask your provider about other ways you can make allergies more bearable.

If you’d like to receive specialty care for allergies, check with an allergist or an ear, nose and throat specialist.

It’s important to note that several conditions that are not allergies can cause symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose. If you have questions, your health care provider can help diagnose a number of nasal and sinus disorders.

Meet the Author

  • Colleen Plein, MD, specializes in otolaryngology: head and neck surgery at Aurora Health Center in Racine, WI. 

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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