If you’re considering allergy treatment, your first thought might be allergy shots, but don’t commit to treatment until you’ve considered a sublingual immunotherapy clinic as well.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a safer, more user-friendly version of allergy shots. As with shots, it starts with a liquid solution containing common allergens (pollen, etc.) That solution is taken as drops under the tongue that absorb into the bloodstream through cells in the mouth. As you take the drops regularly, your body can become desensitized to the allergens that make you miserable.
If you went to Europe, you’d find sublingual immunotherapy clinics in rich supply. After all, more than 45 percent of Europeans get allergy drops rather than allergy shots.
If you go to a sublingual immunotherapy clinic, you can expect to meet with a physician for a brief physical and discussion of your allergy symptoms. Then, the sublingual immunotherapy physician will likely recommend an allergy test. This can be conducted in several ways including:
- Skin prick test: A solution containing allergens is placed on your skin. You then receive a series of needle pricks that allow the solution to penetrate your skin. If you react positively, you will develop a raised red bump or wheal. (The larger the wheal, the more severe your reaction to the allergen).
- Intradermal test: This test works like the skin prick test except that the solution is actually injected into the skin.
- Blood test: Blood is taken and analyzed for antibodies that the body may form in reaction to various allergens.
The sublingual immunotherapy allergist will take into account the results of your health history and your allergy test to determine whether you would benefit from sublingual immunotherapy.
If you are a candidate for SLIT, you will receive allergy drops to be taken (usually) daily under the tongue. Some physicians may also prescribe sublingual allergy medications (in tablet form). Tablets are usually only available for select types of allergens, though, while allergy drops can protect against a broader range of allergens.