If you suffer from allergies, you’re not alone. More than 50 million people in the United States battle seasonal or year-long allergies.
In the past, allergy shots were the most effective way to fight allergies. Today, however, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an innovative way to treat allergies without needles.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that changes your immune system over time so you become tolerant of allergens that once caused uncomfortable symptoms. Unlike injections, sublingual immunotherapy is less likely to trigger severe reactions.
Here at Sheridan Ear, Nose & Throat, Dr. Scott Bateman uses sublingual immunotherapy for some patients. Here’s how it works.
What is sublingual immunotherapy?
Just like allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy introduces small amounts of allergens into your body, which gradually becomes desensitized to the allergens. Over time, your immune system learns not to overreact to the allergens, and your symptoms improve or disappear.
Dr. Bateman tests you to establish your allergies, and then he may recommend a sublingual formulation in the form of drops. During SLIT treatments, drops of the allergen are placed under your tongue. The allergen enters your bloodstream through the veins under the tongue.
For year-round allergies, it’s typical to take the drops once a day throughout the year. For seasonal allergies, like grass pollen and ragweed, you’ll start a daily dose 12 weeks prior to grass season.
To attain lasting results, you may need to continue treatment for up to three years.
Can SLIT improve all allergies?
While SLIT is FDA-approved for treating ragweed and grass pollen allergies, the treatment is also effective for a wide range of conditions, including asthma caused by allergies to cat dander, dust mites, and tree pollen. Also, SLIT is being studied for the treatment of food allergies.
SLIT doesn’t work immediately. Instead, your body builds up immunity over time. You can expect improvement in symptoms in the first few months of treatment. After four months, nearly half of patients being treated for dust mite allergy see a reduction in symptoms.
Is SLIT safe?
Sublingual immunotherapy is generally safe for children and adults. Dr. Bateman administers your first dose in the office and monitors your reaction for 30 minutes. Common side effects are an itchy mouth and throat irritation, which typically subside after the first week of treatment. Severe, adverse reactions are rare.
After the first treatment, you take the sublingual drops daily at home. You’ll receive clear instructions on how to manage any adverse reactions.
Don’t let allergies wreck your good time. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Bateman to discuss SLIT. Call the office at 307-672-0290 or use the online scheduling tool.