For Physicians: Is Sublingual Immunotherapy Right for Your Allergic Patients?

If you are a primary care physician, you probably see quite a few patients each day who complain of allergy symptoms. Both food and environmental allergies are on the rise and now affect at least 20 percent of the population.

Sublingual Immunotherapy for Allergic Patients

When patients complain of allergies, most physicians start by prescribing medications, including antihistamines and corticosteroids. Sometimes this is enough to help patients navigate allergy season. In other cases, though, the medications are only moderately effective in managing symptoms. And some patients may have difficulty taking the medications due to their side effects.

If patients are only symptomatic for a few months of the year, medications are a great place to start. If they suffer from allergies for four or more months of the year or experience symptoms that last for a shorter time but are severe, they may be a candidate for allergy immunotherapy.

In the past, you may have referred patients out for allergy treatment, but this can present challenges of its own. Patients may not like the idea of going to an unfamiliar physician who may not be conveniently located. As a PCP, you may lose continuity of care after making the referral. In response to these challenges, many primary care physicians are now adopting turnkey allergy treatment programs and treating their allergic patients in-house with sublingual immunotherapy.

What is Sublingual Immunotherapy?

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is much like allergy shots except that antigen is delivered to the body through under-the-tongue allergy drops instead of through injections. The antigen absorbs into the bloodstream through special cells in the mouth. Over time, the antigen helps the body develop immunity to the very things that once made it miserable.

SLIT has been shown to be as effective as allergy shots, but it is safer so it can be taken at home. It is also easy to comply with—patients squirt their allergy serum under their tongue once a day. No pain, no hassle! SLIT has also been shown to be safe for children under age 5, as opposed to shots which are not usually appropriate for kids under the age of 7 or 8.

Offering Sublingual Immunotherapy in Your Clinic

If you decide to provide sublingual immunotherapy in your practice, you can start by ordering an allergy test kit through a turnkey allergy testing and treatment program. The program can supply you with clinical training, allergy testing supplies, and support for prescribing sublingual immunotherapy. You can provide environmental allergy treatment as well as food allergy treatment. (Sublingual immunotherapy works for both.)

Incorporating SLIT into your primary care clinic will help you offer more services to your patients and increase your medical practice profits. Contact AllergyEasy for more information.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.