Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an allergy treatment that has become increasingly popular in recent years as a safe and effective alternative to traditional allergy shots. It works by gradually reducing the body’s sensitivity to allergens, which can lead to a significant reduction in symptoms over time.
Unlike the commonly used immunotherapy allergy injections, sublingual immunotherapy doesn’t require a shot – instead, it involves a tablet placed under the tongue. This article will provide an overview of sublingual immunotherapy, including how it works, what it involves, and the benefits it offers to those suffering from allergies.
Allergy immunotherapy is a powerful treatment that can help diminish allergic reactions to specific allergens. To understand how it works, we need to understand what an allergy is.
An allergy is a reaction in the body to a foreign substance called an allergen. Your body naturally produces antibodies, which recognize the allergen as harmful, even though it’s not. These antibodies are responsible for communicating with cells that release chemicals that cause allergic symptoms.
The symptoms can range in severity from mild symptoms involving a runny nose and itchy eyes to anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention.
With a baseline understanding of an allergy, we can learn more about immunotherapy. It’s a treatment that helps reduce the immune system’s sensitivity to an allergen. It works by reducing the production of the “blocking” antibody responsible for creating the symptoms.
To achieve this result, the treatment administers a small dose of the allergen subcutaneously (under the skin) or sublingually (under the tongue). The dose increases over the following months and years, slowly decreasing the body’s sensitivity to the allergen. It is important to be aware of the types of allergies that are common where you live, so you can nuance your immunotherapy to the types of allergens you are exposed to.
What is Sublingual Immunotherapy?
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is one of two types of immunotherapy. The alternative is subcutaneous immunotherapy, which is administered via injections under the skin. However, if you don’t like needles, allergy shots might not be a good option. This is where sublingual allergy treatment comes in.
Sublingual immunotherapy is administered under the tongue. The treatment options with this type of immunotherapy are limited, as the FDA has only approved tablets for ragweed, dust mites, and northern pasture grasses like timothy.
However, they can be an incredibly effective way to address those allergies. The treatment works by placing a tablet under the tongue for one to two minutes while you wait for it to dissolve. Once it dissolves, you will swallow the remnants of it.
You’ll repeat this process between three and seven days per week, depending on your allergy. Over time, the tablets increase your tolerance to the allergen and slowly work to reduce your symptoms.
For many folks, the treatment must be continuous over three years or longer to remain effective.
You may also see allergy drops as an option, but these are not FDA-approved and are off-label in the U.S.
Benefits of Sublingual Immunotherapy
Like subcutaneous immunotherapy, sublingual immunotherapy for allergies offers a remarkable range of benefits. It can be highly effective in decreasing allergy symptoms for various allergens, allowing you to enjoy various experiences wherein the allergen is present without pesky symptoms.
On top of that, it’s an excellent alternative to allergy shots, especially for those with trypanophobia or a fear of needles. While the list of allergens sublingual immunotherapy is limited, research is underway to expand this list and give people with allergies a comfortable way to work on alleviating their allergies.
Allergy sublingual immunotherapy offers a safe and effective alternative to allergy shots for those who are not comfortable with needles. While the treatment options with this type of immunotherapy are limited, it can be highly effective in decreasing allergy symptoms for various allergens.
With continuous treatment over three years or longer, sublingual immunotherapy can help reduce the body’s sensitivity to the allergen and improve the quality of life for those suffering from allergies. Sublingual immunotherapy costs are well worth it for many, especially since health insurance may cover it. As research continues to expand the list of allergens for this treatment, more people will have access to a comfortable and effective way to work on alleviating their allergies.