Sublingual immunotherapy, also known as allergy drops, is a more effective treatment than over-the-counter allergy pills because it combats the cause of allergies rather than just the symptoms. The principle of allergy drops is the same as allergy shots. It is a long-term treatment that decreases allergy symptoms by decreasing the immune system’s reaction to allergens.
The patient places liquid containing allergens under the tongue and holds it there for one to two minutes before swallowing. This is a more convenient option than allergy shots for many patients because allergy drops can be safely administered at home rather than at the doctor’s office.
The duration of treatment varies by patient depending on several factors, including severity of allergies and sensitivity to allergy drop dosages. Patients self-administer the drops daily for an average of three to five years. The goal is to change the body’s immune response to allergens so the patient no longer experiences symptoms once the treatment is over.
Like all medical procedures, there are possible risks and side effects. However, these are generally mild, ranging from localized itching in the mouth to intestinal discomfort, which often goes away after several weeks.
Allergy drops are an important new treatment option for patients constantly refilling over-the-counter allergy medications or taking weekly trips to the doctor’s office for allergy shots. Allergy drops are effective for treating asthma related to dust mites, as well as allergies to grass, ragweed, pet dander and tree pollen.