Allergen Immunotherapy is the only disease modifying treatment for allergy sufferers. There are now a number of excellent immunotherapy treatment options for those who live with the sometimes debilitating effects of seasonal and year-round allergies: allergy shots, allergy drops and now, allergy tablets.
The most common, and most effective, treatment is allergy shots. Allergy shots are a series of injections that help control and reduce allergy symptoms. They are not a medication, but rather a natural approach to increasing your tolerance towards your specific allergens. Allergy shots work by injecting you with trace amounts of the allergens that are causing your allergic symptoms. By gradually increasing the doses of your allergy extract, your body develops an immunity and/or tolerance, thereby reducing or even eliminating your allergic symptoms. The National Institute of Health reports that 85% of people with allergic rhinitis will benefit from allergy shots within the first year, lessening their symptoms and need for medication. Additional research shows that children receiving allergy shots are less likely to develop asthma.
Allergy drops, or sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), are a series of liquid drops placed underneath the tongue containing traces of your specific allergens. By gradually introducing these allergens into your system, your body develops an immunity or tolerance to your allergic triggers. Clinical research shows that allergy drops may not be quite as effective as allergy shots. The drops also present challenges to patients who are allergic to multiple items since the number of allergens in drops is limited. However, they do work and can be very helpful for certain types of allergy patients. Although allergy drops have been used in Europe for years and are completely legal in the U.S., they are not yet approved by the FDA and are considered an investigational therapy. Since they are not approved by the FDA, insurance companies are not currently reimbursing for this treatment.
Allergy Tablets, another form of oral immunotherapy, have recently been approved by the FDA for use in the United States. These fast dissolving tablets are placed under the tongue and work to help the body build tolerance to allergens through consistent exposure. The tablets only contain one type of allergen and are only indicated for people with allergies to grass or ragweed.