Sublingual immunotherapy is the latest, greatest new idea in medicine. It’s a medical breakthrough, making a big splash right now. Sublingual immunotherapy is a way of treating allergies, which induces the development of tolerance. It comprises epinephrine, antigens, or allergen extract under the tongue. This article discusses this treatment method and how it works.
What is Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)?
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an allergy treatment method involving placing drops or tablets containing allergen extracts under the tongue. The sublingual route allows rapid absorption into the bloodstream with little risk of side effects. The treatment can be self-administered at home, and many patients find it more convenient than taking shots. An allergist can assess your symptoms and recommend whether it’s the most effective therapy for your condition.
Sublingual immunotherapy works by exposing you to tiny amounts of an allergen without causing an allergic reaction. Over time, this helps your immune system become less sensitive to the allergen and reduces your symptoms. The dose gradually increases over weeks or months until you reach the desired level.
What’s the SLIT Procedure Like?
Allergy testing is the initial stage in determining a patient’s allergies. An individual vial of drops is then created for the patient. Every day, the patient administers a few drops beneath their tongue and allows it to dissolve – usually for 20 minutes. You should repeat this daily at all stages of therapy.
The tablets are designed to dissolve slowly, releasing small amounts of the allergen over time. Allergen immunotherapy can continue anywhere from a few weeks to months, depending on the individual’s response and the likelihood of recurrence after stopping the treatment.
The final stage involves maintenance therapy for two years and beyond. This phase involves taking fewer drops than in the initial phase, but you may need to keep taking them for longer than two years if you have severe allergies or asthma.
Some people can see symptom relief in as little as a few weeks. In most cases, it takes between 3 and 6 months.
What is Sublingual Immunotherapy Used for?
There are many reasons you may need sublingual immunotherapy. Maybe you are interested in improving your immune system function, or maybe you have an allergy. Here are some common reasons why you may need sublingual immunotherapy.
You Are Asthmatic
Asthma is a long-term condition that damages the lungs’ airways. It causes swelling and narrowing of the airways, making breathing difficult. House dust mite (HDM) SLIT-tablets have shown clinically relevant improvements for asthma, with significant decreases in daily inhaled corticosteroid use, the risk of asthma exacerbations, and symptoms. SLIT tablets are a safe option with little danger of systemic allergic responses in people with moderate to severe allergies who have not responded to other treatments.
Eczema-Infected Children and Infants
Children with eczema and repeated ear infections frequently have an underlying allergic etiology and have found sublingual immunotherapy beneficial. Treating eczema and allergies at an early age can have long-term health advantages and prevent the development of other allergies in the future.
You Have Dust Mite Allergies
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is an injection-free method of treating dust mite allergies. The allergen is administered under the tongue in tiny amounts. This exposure enhances dust mite tolerance and alleviates symptoms. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized SLIT tablets to treat dust mite allergies.
SLIT trains the immunological system to stop identifying dust mites as a source of allergy symptoms. Compared to SCIT, this is a much more convenient option because it is an oral drug that may be taken at your convenience.
Have an Allergy to Rhinitis
Sublingual immunotherapy treats allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in people with severe allergies to pollen, dust mites, and other substances. The treatment can reduce symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and congestion.
Have Food Allergies
SLIT can help reduce the symptoms of food allergies and prevent reactions. It works by gradually increasing your tolerance to the allergen. Sublingual immunotherapy can be used to treat a wide range of food allergies, including:
- Cow’s milk allergy (milk protein allergy)
- Egg allergy (egg white or yolk)
- Peanut allergy (groundnut or peanut)
- Soybean allergy (soya bean)
Highly Sensitive Patients
Allergy drops may be the best option if you’re scared of needles and don’t want or can’t take allergy shots. This also includes people who have encountered systemic responses to allergy shots, fear injections, cannot regularly travel for injections and are predominantly young.
Is Sublingual Immunotherapy Safe?
Sublingual immunotherapy is considered safe when a doctor with experience with this type of treatment administers it. Side effects are usually mild and include mouth or throat swelling and eye irritation from contact with the drops/tablets.
The most common side effect is an allergic reaction at the site where the drops/tablets were placed under the tongue, which may be severe enough to require hospitalization. This can occur within minutes or up to three hours after application. Nevertheless, in most cases, the reaction will resolve without further treatment and without causing permanent damage.
You may also experience increased nasal symptoms such as nasal congestion or runny nose during treatment. This is because producing antibodies against allergens also stimulates your immune system to produce more histamine, which causes these symptoms.
However, if you want to try sublingual immunotherapy, your ENT doctor in Philadelphia PA, should ensure it’s safe before prescribing it as part of your treatment plan.
Sublingual immunotherapy is used for the treatment of allergens and can be used to treat other disorders. It is very straightforward to implement and provides tolerability for patients. In sublingual immunotherapy, you receive a dosage of small amounts of allergen that gradually raises your tolerance; this allows you to work with smaller doses over time.
It’s worth pointing out that sublingual immunotherapy is still being studied and developed, so don’t take it upon yourself to self-medicate—especially if you have allergies! However, if your doctor recommends it and you have no existing allergies, then it might not hurt to give it a try.