Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), often called ‘allergy drops’, is an exciting alternative to traditional allergy shots. SLIT uses allergens administered in a liquid or tablet form under the tongue to achieve immune changes similar to that seen with allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy or SCIT).
What is Sublingual Immunotherapy?
SLIT is currently being used in Europe and in some South American countries alongside SCIT. SLIT is currently not FDA approved in the United States, but research in both the US and abroad have shown sublingual immunotherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for allergic rhinitis. Allergy Partners physicians have been deeply involved in SLIT studies and development. After a careful review, Allergy Partners is pleased to announce that we will begin offering SLIT to appropriate patients.
SLIT appears to have a favorable safety profile. The most common side effects include occasional problems with mild itching/burning of the mouth or lip. Other systemic symptoms such as runny nose or upset stomach, are much less common. Rarely, increased asthma symptoms have been noted. More severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) have been reported but appear to be very rare. These features allow the option for SLIT to be administered at home.
The effectiveness of SLIT for allergic rhinitis has been studied in both adults and children. A large review of over 100 research studies demonstrated that about 1/3 of these studies showed significant improvement in symptoms while 1/3 showed no significant benefit. The variation in effectiveness has been attributed to the differences in the dose of allergen used for the various symptoms. The higher doses of allergen appear to have the largest impact on symptom improvement. Comparatively, successful SLIT is more effective than available antihistamines, but not as effective as allergy shots. Recent data also suggests that SLIT may improve symptoms of eczema (atopic dermatitis) in young children.
Who should be treated with Sublingual Immunotherapy?
Patients for whom SLIT may be a good option include those who are afraid of needles, those who have not tolerated allergy shots, and those with isolated seasonal symptoms. Drops are also a good option for young children. As is true for all immunotherapy, the dosage of allergen used is the key to clinical success. SLIT is not homeopathy and low dose drops offered by some providers will not deliver results. Allergy Partners’ SLIT program utilizes standardized, potent allergen extracts at doses clinically proven to be effective. We are committed to providing you with state of the art SLIT that is effective, safe, and cost effective.