Allergy shots have traditionally been administered by subcutaneous injections at a medical clinic by a nurse or allergist. Subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT) requires weekly injections initially over several months, each requiring a 30-minute post-injection observation period in case of severe reactions, which, although rare, require rapid medical intervention. Allergists will sometimes delegate the administration of allergy shots to the patient’s family doctor. In order to be effective, shots must be administered over a period of several weeks in the early stages of the allergy treatment and, subsequently, on a regular basis over a three-year period.
An alternative to traditional treatment has been developed and used extensively in Europe for the past 20 years:
Developed and used extensively in Europe for over 20 years, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is another effective method of treating allergies. It involves placing the same allergens in the form of drops or tablets under the tongue. Although research has proven the effectiveness of SLIT in the treatment of allergic diseases, North America has been slow to accept this form of treatment. In France, SLIT makes up to 85% of all treatment of allergies. The benefits are obvious. A major strength of sublingual immunotherapy is that severe reactions to the drops are much less likely than with injections, by a factor of 3 or 4. Additionally, once an allergist has administered the first dose of SLIT, sublingual immunotherapy is then self-administered every morning by the patient in their home. No more trips to the doctor or medical clinic. It takes only two minutes for a patient to self-administer their daily dose of SLIT at home. Dr. Tropper recommends control visits every 4 to 6 months to effectively monitor the patient’s response to sublingual immunotherapy and make any necessary adjustments to the allergy treatment.
Administered orally in the form of drops or tablets placed under the tongue, sublingual immunotherapy is safe, simple and highly effective. Compared with injections, SLIT offers a more convenient option. Its benefits make it an obvious choice for patients whose allergy symptoms are unresponsive to antihistamines and topical nasal steroids. SLIT carries the unmistakeable potential to change the evolution of respiratory allergies, particularly in children and even when allergy symptoms are mild. Rather than allowing an allergy to progress and develop with further allergies, asthma and other complications such as chronic sinusitis and the oral allergy syndrome, sublingual immunotherapy offers the possibility of altering the course of allergic disease.