Sublingual Allergy Immunotherapy Treatment
The only therapy currently available to alter the course of allergic disease is immunotherapy. All other treatments only mitigate symptoms. Immunotherapy desensitizes you to your triggering substances by gradually increasing your exposure to that which you are allergic. Through sublingual drops (drops put under your tongue), you can decrease your body’s response to triggers.
Consistent use of the therapy produces a reduction in symptoms with time. Most patients require treatment for 3-5 years to get lasting relief from their symptoms. Some may consider this a hassle--and I agree--but for those who suffer from chronic symptoms, such as asthma or allergies that aren’t responsive to standard treatments (nasal steroids, antihistamines, decongestants, etc.), the benefit of immunotherapy far exceeds any hassle.
For my patients with intermittent or mild symptoms, I recommend standard treatment. For those who desire immunotherapy, the process involves a testing procedure, during which allergens (items that may cause an allergic reaction) are placed on the skin and are observed for reaction. This will probably induce some mild itching. The categories for which we test include grasses, molds, trees, weeds, dogs, cats, dust, mites, and pollens. There are no needles involved with testing or treatment in our office, and testing only takes about 30 minutes. You are required to stop any antihistamine therapy for 4-5 days prior to testing but may resume use immediately after testing.
During immunotherapy, you will probably need to continue using other treatments until your body begins to respond and symptoms diminish. I only offer sublingual therapy due to its convenience, as you perform treatment out of the office and only need a follow-up visit and testing once a year. Side effects are usually mild, and they include not liking the taste of the drops and a slight tingling of the tongue after use. Sublingual immunotherapy does not require carrying an Epipen (auto injector of epinephrine) for rescue of possible anaphylaxis, as does injection immunotherapy.
I have observed the results of sublingual immunotherapy treatments in my practice over several years. The treatment is well-tolerated and convenient. Most patients will start seeing some improvement in their symptoms in about 6 months. If the patient has seasonal allergies or year-round allergies, there can be a temporary worsening of symptoms when the body is exposed to both airborne and sublingual routes and has not yet become responsive to the desensitizing process. Using standard therapies like antihistamines or decongestants during this time helps limit the worsening of symptoms.
Health insurance does not cover sublingual allergy immunotherapy and requires that injection therapy be carried out in the doctor’s office each week with a copay and at least an hour of your time per shot. With sublingual therapy, you first undergo the testing, which costs $150.00 and determines if you are a candidate for therapy. If you decide on therapy, the drops are made according to your specific test results and a 90-day supply is $240.00. If symptoms improve, picking up your drops every 90 days is the only interaction required. At the end of 12 months, it is recommended to repeat the testing and modify the drops if needed and continue another year.
If needed, I am available for more frequent allergy related visits for a $75.00 fee. We accept credit cards, cash, and checks, as well as Care Credit for payment. We do not bill or accept insurance or any government program for your care.
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