Sublingual Immunotherapy - Allergy Drops
What are allergy drops?
Sublingual immunotherapy is a method of treating allergies by placing drops underneath the tongue. Similar to allergy shots, a set amount of physician-dosed antigens are placed under your tongue to help your build your body’s tolerance over time. The difference is that allergy drops are administered at home, and without injections. Allergy drops are ideal for patients whose allergies are terrible, those who have bad asthma, the young or elderly, or anyone who cannot tolerate allergy shots. Research has found that allergy drops are an effective and safe alternative to conventional allergy shots.
Are allergy drops new?
Though seemingly revolutionary, it is not a new route of receiving immunotherapy. Sublingual drop therapy has been used and studied extensively in Europe for many years. Some studies say that as many as 50%-75% of allergy patients in Europe have their allergy immunotherapy in the form of drops instead of shots. Although utilized in Europe for many decades, the use of allergy drops has only recently started to gain popularity in the United States.
Are allergy drops homeopathic medicine? No. Sublingual immunotherapy is not homeopathy. The same allergens are obtained from the same allergen manufacturers that we use for allergy shots. Sublingual immunotherapy simply is an different route of administration, under the tongue.
Are allergy drops safe and effective?
The safety and efficacy of allergy drops has been proven in Europe for over 30 years. In fact, the World Health Organization has endorsed allergy drops as “a viable alternative to injection therapy.” The safety of sublingual immunotherapy has also been studied. Research has shown that severe reactions with sublingual immunotherapy are three times less common than with conventional allergy injections. Furthermore, there has never been a life-threatening anaphylaxis reaction with allergy drops in over 30 years, and over 200 million doses.
How are allergy drops given?
Allergy drops can be given for both environmental allergies (ie. hay fever, seasonal or perennial allergies) or certain food allergies. They are self-administered at home, once daily. Approximately every three months, you will be asked to pick up your new vial(s) at the next treatment concentration. Like allergy shots, the complete immunotherapy treatment course averages about 3-5 years.
What are the advantages of allergy drops?
Besides making allergy treatment easier for children, severe asthmatics, the elderly, or anyone who cannot tolerate allergy shots, there are other advantages to sublingual immunotherapy. Some of the advantages of allergy drops include: no needles or injections, no risk of anaphylaxis (throat swelling), the convenience of self-administering the treatment at home, improved compliance by children, and portability during travel. Compared to allergy shots, there are less office visits and time spent waiting for your allergy injection. Many patients feel that the convenience of taking the drops with them when they travel has helped their compliance with their allergy treatment. In fact, more people (close to 90%) are likely to complete their first year of allergy drop therapy as compared to only about 50% of people on allergy shots. Just like allergy shots, as your symptoms improve on allergy drop therapy, your need for medication decreases. The end benefit is less time in the office, less money spent on medication, and the convenience of allergy drops at home.
Are allergy drops covered by insurance?
No. While the safety and efficacy of allergy drops for immunotherapy has already been proven in Europe, the FDA has yet to approve it in the United States. The use of allergy drops is still relatively new to the insurance industry. Therefore, a specific billing/reimbursement code has not yet been established. Currently, we are not able to bill your insurance carrier for this service and drops are offered to our patients on a cash basis only. We can, however, process your drops through your health savings account or flex account.