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Allergy Drops (Sublingual Immunotherapy)

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Introduction. Sublingual immunotherapy, often called ‘allergy drops’, is a painless and convenient alternative to traditional allergy shots. Allergens are administered daily as drops under the tongue, decreasing or eliminating allergic responses over time.

Can it really help? Many research studies
have shown high-dose sublingual
immunotherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for allergic rhinitis. On average, it appears that “drops” are more effective than the newer antihistamines, but not to the extent seen with traditional allergy shots.

Sublingual immunotherapy is not homeopathy. Low-dose drops offered by some providers are unlikely to provide relief.

Who should be treated with Sublingual Immunotherapy? Children or adults with allergic rhinitis (hay fever), but who cannot tolerate shots or who are unable to have regular injections in the office.

How to start? Please call to schedule an an examination and testing to determine your specific allergies and to decide with our physicians whether sublingual immunotherapy is right for you.

sublingual spray bottleWhat’s it like to have “drops”? We schedule a 90 minute appointment for the start day, when increasing doses are given 15 minutes apart in the clinic until you reach the dose you will take daily once a day at home.

The allergen solution is provided in a small pump bottle (see picture), making it easy to spray the drop under the tongue once a day at home. We advise not swallowing for two minutes after the dose, but there are no restrictions on eating or drinking after that time.

Are there any side effects to the treatment? There is an initial slight sweet taste due to the glycerin sugar used as a preservative, sometimes followed by a more medicinal taste. A small number have reported tingling or itching sensations in their mouths which generally resolves within two weeks. There are rare reported cases of mild anaphylactic reactions, but no reported fatalities.

What are the costs? Sublingual immunotherapy is not covered by most insurance plans in the U.S., although the expense may qualify for medical spending accounts. Please inquire about current pricing at 434 951-2191. The costs often compare favorably to the expenses of traditional allergy shots due to deductibles, copays, travel, and time-loss from work or school.

Why aren’t drops used more in the U.S.? SLIT is a major form of allergy treatment in Europe and in some South American countries and had been endorsed by the World Health Organization as an alternative to allergy shots.Drops are less common in the U.S., in part because SLIT is not FDA approved. Sublingual immunotherapy solutions are made up of the same natural allergens used for (approved) allergy shots and skin testing, but drops are considered “off label” when used for something other than those purposes. This status means that most insurance companies will not cover the expense of SLIT.

Please call Allergy Partners of Charlottesville with any questions or to schedule an appointment: 434 951-2191