No more shots? Allergy sufferers find new relief in liquid drops
The melting snow was a welcome sight to many people, except perhaps allergy sufferers. The warmer weather and arrival of spring also signals the beginning of pollen - among other irritants - season in Ohio.However, a new treatment may allow some patients with allergies to replace weekly injections with a few liquid drops.
SLIT (sublingual immunotherapy) utilizes under-the-tongue liquid drops and has shown success in alleviating allergy symptoms – not to mention being more convenient for patients.
Jeannie Lilly started SLIT therapy in 2012 after meeting with allergy and immunology doctors at Ohio State. She found relief by taking a couple liquid drops each morning to treat her pollen allergies.
“I can finally sit on my deck and not worry about it,” Lilly says. “My allergies are controlled.”
Kara Wada, MD, an allergy and immunology specialist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says SLIT is a type of immunotherapy treatment, which aims to condition a person’s immune system to no longer be irritated by certain allergens, such as pollen.
How does SLIT work?SLIT exposes a patient to small doses of what they are allergic to, in an effort to change their immune system. With time, the patient’s body goes from attacking something that it shouldn’t attack to essentially ignoring it.
Which allergies can SLIT treat?SLIT has been used to treat pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander allergies, says Dr. Wada.
The first dose is administered in the office under the supervision of an allergist. If that goes well, patients can continue the treatment from home by placing a few drops of the extract under their tongue each day.
Dr. Wada cautions that SLIT is not designed to be a quick fix for allergy sufferers.
“The treatment is repeated every day for three to five years, as it takes a long time for the immune system to change for the long-term,” according to Dr. Wada.