People who suffer from allergies that don’t respond to medical treatment may find relief from immunotherapy, a method of building tolerance to an allergen by introducing it to the body in small doses over a period of time. It is usually given as injections (allergy shots), but can also be taken orally. When ingested, it is known as sublingual immunotherapy.
How Does Sublingual Immunotherapy Work?
By introducing an allergic substance to your body in gradually increasing doses over time, you will eventually build up resistance to it. The immune system becomes less sensitive to the offending substance as the size of the dose is increased, leading to a reduction in the severity of your symptoms.
The first step involves identifying the allergen that is responsible for your symptoms. Your doctor or allergist will perform allergy skin testing to isolate the offending trigger. Once this is determined, an extract of the substance is prepared in drop form, which will be taken daily. You will need to hold the drops under your tongue for a minute or two before swallowing. It takes anywhere from three to five years for most patients to develop an immunity to the substance.
Who Benefits from Therapy?
Those suffering from a range of allergies – including pollen, grass, animal dander, and dust mites – that don’t respond favorably to traditional treatment methods, like decongestants and antihistamines, are good candidates for sublingual immunotherapy.
Advantages of sublingual immunotherapy versus traditional immunotherapy include ease of use (patients can treat themselves at home as no needles are required), and there is less danger of side effects or allergic reactions.
To determine if sublingual immunotherapy is right for you, talk to your doctor.
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