Previously we took a look at whether allergy shots are right for you, and this week we are discussing another form of immunotherapy: sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Immunotherapy itself, defined by Mayo Clinic, is a “carefully timed and gradually increased exposure to allergens, particularly those that are difficult to avoid, such as pollens, dust mites and molds.”
What is SLIT?
In sublingual immunotherapy, allergy tablets are placed under the patient’s tongue to dissolve. Unlike allergy medications (antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids), these tablets are made from allergens and are designed to increase tolerance rather than relieve symptoms. The treatment is administered up to to three times a week (often daily) and may be continue for over three years. As the therapy progresses, the patient becomes more and more resistant to the allergen, eventually becoming immune to it altogether.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, currently sublingual immunotherapy has only been approved to treat grass and ragweed pollen allergies, so it is essential that you are tested to see exactly what you’re allergic to before taking this route. That said, studies indicate that SILT is safe and effective for other allergens, but it has not yet been approved to treat them.
The pros and cons of SLIT (per ACAAI):
- Permanent relief for a grass or ragweed allergies
- Risk is usually mild, presenting as itchy mouth or stomach problems, early in treatment
- Administered at home
Cons of SLIT (per ACAAI):
- Currently only treats grass or ragweed allergies
- Anaphylaxis is rare, but may occur
- Not administered under direct medical supervision
When considering sublingual immunotherapy, you’ll want to take some of the same factors into account as you did with allergy shots:
- Cost, monetary and time-wise
- Commitment to long-term medication
- Severity and length of symptoms
- Effectiveness of over-the-counter or prescription medication
Is there another path to permanent relief?
At CT Sinus Center, we have perfected two innovative procedures that can put an end to your allergy suffering of all kinds, including pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold. When you come in for a consultation with our expert physicians, we will take the time to discuss all of your symptoms and what treatments you’ve tried so far. Next, we’ll perform thorough diagnostic testing to figure out what you’re allergic to. After that, we will clearly and comprehensively explain our diagnosis and your treatment options. You may be eligible for Balloon Sinus Dilation, which will reshape your nasal passages, effectively eliminating the chances of continued problems. Or perhaps Turbinate Reductions, in which the tissue in the nose that supports the nasal passages is decreased, decreasing the size of the turbinate and quickly increasing airflow, is your best bet. Whichever procedure is right for you, it will end your allergy suffering in one shot.