5 Facts About Oral Allergy Drops

The HealthCentral Editorial Team | April 9, 2013

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For people who have to go to the doctor’s office to get an allergy shot every week, sublingual immunotherapy, or oral allergy drops, could be a safe, easy alternative.

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Allergy drops are used off-label in the U.S.

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Though the Food and Drug Administration has not approved sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), the World Health Organization says that SLIT is widely accepted treatment in Europe, South America and Asia.

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Allergy drops can be used at home

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Once an allergist determines your allergies, an allergy extract is prepared in a drop or tablet. The patient is instructed to hold it under the tongue for one to two minutes before swallowing. The drop can be taken three times a week, or daily, depending on doctor recommendations, and continued for three to five years for the patient to develop long-term immunity.

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New research shows SLIT is effective

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A recent study from Johns Hopkins University found that compared to antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays, SLIT produces a 40 percent decrease in nasal congestion and runny nose. Researchers looked at more than 63 studies, involving 5,131 participants, mostly in Europe. They also found that in eight of 13 studies, the therapy reduced coughing, wheezing and tightness in the chest.

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Side effects are mild

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Side effects are local and mild for both children and adults. Typically, they appear early in treatment and include itching in the mouth and stomach issues. Dose adjustments can minimize side effects. In international studies, SLIT has proven to be safe for children under 5 years old, although in very rare cases, anaphylaxis can occur.

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Patients need to receive guidance

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Because SLIT is administered at home without medical supervision, it’s important that the patient knows what to do in case of an adverse reaction. Make sure your allergist gives you clear guidelines on managing issues and treatment interruptions. If you are not sure what to do, always consult your allergist.

NEXT: 8 Tips to Prevent Severe Anaphylaxis