Sublingual immunotherapy is a method of desensitizing the body to an allergen by placing drops of the irritant beneath the tongue and having the patient swallow it. Doses are increased over time, enabling a person to build up immunity to the allergen, reducing symptoms and bringing relief.
How Does it Work?
Allergies cause misery for millions of Americans on a daily basis. While conventional treatments involving medications like antihistamines help control the symptoms for many sufferers, some people don’t respond to these types of treatments. Immunotherapy, or desensitization, trains the immune system to tolerate the offending allergen.
Traditional immunotherapy involves administering doses of the allergen through shots. With sublingual immunotherapy, the same allergen is delivered in drop or tablet form. It is just as safe and effective as allergy shots, with the added benefit of allowing a patient to undergo treatment at home.
If you are suffering from allergies, your doctor will administer allergy testing in order to isolate the suspected allergen. Once the irritant is identified, a custom mix of drops or tablets is prepared, which you will take daily. The dosage is gradually increased during the “escalation phase,” which lasts for four months. Afterwards, you will take the same dosage every day. This is called the “maintenance phase.” Treatment continues for three to five years, allowing your body enough time to build up a lasting immunity.
Sublingual immunotherapy is a safe and proven method for treating the symptoms associated with severe allergies. Side effects are rare and mild, and may include itchiness in the mouth or stomach discomfort. These usually occur early on during the treatment cycle, and can be managed by altering the dosage.