As all sorts of allergies are becoming more prominent in our daily lives, whether food allergy signs catch our eye in the grocery store or we notice our neighbors wearing face masks while mowing their yards, or we ourselves are directly affected by some sort of allergy, more types of treatment are becoming available as well.
Gone is the day (in my opinion) when we go to one doctor, listen to one diagnosis and treatment, and follow that with no further research or opinions. The same is true for allergy sufferers. Not only are there a number of types of practitioners we can see, including our GP, ENTs, allergists and alternative practitioners, but they all have different treatment plans to offer. Lately, I have been hearing more and more about sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) treatment for allergies.
SLIT follows a similar premise as allergy shots, but it is delivered in usually drop or sometimes tablet form under the tongue and can be used for a variety of different allergies, including hay fever and other environmental allergies. It contains a very diluted form of the allergen, and like a shot that injects the allergen, SLIT will get the body used to the allergen in small doses. The patient holds the tablet under the tongue for a specified time and because the gastrointestinal tract can tolerate these tiny doses of the allergen, few side effects are reported using this method, while the benefits remain high.
SLIT has the same effect as allergy shots; however a broader range of patients can benefit, including younger patients and those with higher sensitivities. Some practitioners prefer it over shots with patients as young as 5 because there isn’t the pain or fear associated with needles.
Another advantage of SLIT is that patients can administer this treatment to themselves at home. Not only is it painless, the time spent going to the doctor for shots can be eliminated.
SLIT is not an FDA approved drug at this time, but studies are under way to further research it. It has been a widely used method in Europe for over 20 years. Because it is not FDA approved, many mainstream doctors don’t prescribe SLIT and insurance providers won’t cover it, but it may be worth looking into if shots are not an option (or not desired) for whatever reason. So far, the studies in the US are showing it to be a very safe alternate treatment for allergies.
Like anything, it is up to the patient, the consumer, the client to find what works best for him or her. While SLIT is newer and does not have the “approved” background in the US that shots do, it may be worth the time to look into it. You can learn more about this treatment at www.allergychoices.com. We’ve come to an age where we have options and we should use that to our advantage.
– Heather Legg