SLIT Therapy for Environmental Allergies
Sublingual allergy therapy (SLIT) is a form of therapy for treating environmental allergies that involves putting drops of allergens under the tongue daily for a period of time, which is often about one year. Many people refer to this type of treatment as “allergy drops”.
Like allergy shots, the theory behind SLIT is that patients are given small doses of allergens in order to train the body not to react to them. The dosage of the allergens is gradually increased over time. The idea is to give the body enough of the allergen to create an immune response, but not enough to create a full blown reaction. Many people report improvement in their allergy symptoms in just a few month as their bodies become desensitized to allergens, though treatment typically lasts for at least one year.
The most common types of allergies treated with SLIT are allergic rhinitis (“hay fever”), allergic conjunctivitis (watery and itchy eyes) and allergic asthma. Conventional medications like antihistamines and steroids are designed to mask allergy symptoms and are usually taken lifelong, while SLIT treats the underlying cause of allergies. The goal of SLIT is to eliminate or reduce allergies to the point that medications are no longer required.
Reasons to consider SLIT:
1. Your allergies are caused by triggers that are difficult to avoid such as pollen.
2. You are not getting good response to allergy medications or you are concerned about allergy medication side effects.
3. You are looking for a more permanent solution to allergies.
4. Allergy shots are too inconvenient, painful and/or costly.
Prior to starting SLIT therapy, you are tested (through a simple blood test) to determine your specific individual allergens. A pharmacist then blends a formula that is customized to your specific allergy triggers.
SLIT therapy has been around for many years and accounts for about 40% of allergy treatment in Europe. SLIT therapy has still not been approved by the FDA which means that it is not reimbursable by most insurance companies. However, there are many reasons that you may want to choose SLIT therapy:
• Convenience- Allergy shots are administered in a physician’s office and may require up to three visits per week during the initial phase of treatment and then weekly visits for up to five years.
SLIT typically requires an office visit for the first dose of each phase which is usually one visit every three months. The remaining doses are administered by the patient at home.
• Cost- Many insurance companies partially cover the cost of allergy shots, but co-pays, time taken off of work and travel back and forth to the doctor’s office add up quickly.
There are instances where SLIT is inappropriate. Those with unstable heart disease, autoimmune disease, those with severe asthma and pregnant women are not candidates for SLIT therapy.
Take time to talk to one our NaturoMedica doctors to determine if SLIT is right for you.