Allergy Immunotherapy FAQ
Allergy immunotherapy addresses the underlying cause of allergies. Antihistamines and other allergy drugs treat only the symptoms, whereas allergy immunotherapy trains the immune system to stop seeing benign allergens as a threat. Allergy drops are administered in gradually increasing dosages until the patient develops a tolerance to the allergy-causing substance.
Allergy immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies by delivering small doses of the allergen in tolerable amounts. Exposure to these small doses over time increases the immunity or tolerance to the allergens to reduce and eliminate the allergenic symptoms. Sublingual immunotherapy delivers the allergen in drop form under the tongue and can be taken at home, whereas injections are done in a doctors office and require medical supervision.
Allergy immunotherapy was traditionally given by injection. However, increasingly, allergy drops, given under the tongue are being prescribed. Both methods are effective in treating the root cause of allergies. Injections are required to be given in a physicians office, whereas allergy drops can be taken at home. Allergy shots are less expensive, but take longer to see results.
Allergy drops are clinically proven for both efficacy and safety. In fact, there are more than 700 citations in clinical trials worldwide.
Sublingual Immunotherapy has been endorsed by:
World Health Organization – ‘sublingual immunotherapy as a viable alternative to injection therapy’
Cochrane Collaboration the world’s most-trusted international organization dedicated to reviewing healthcare treatments, recently concluded ‘allergy drop immunotherapy significantly reduced allergy symptoms and use of allergy medications’. See our bibliography for more information about research studies.
World Allergy Organization states that: ‘ sublingual immunotherapy is effective in alleviating allergy symptoms to a similar or even greater extent than pharmacological treatments for both asthma and allergic rhinitis’
Allergy immunotherapy is a means to an end. It will treat the underlying cause of the allergy so that the reactions minimize over time, eventually disappearing altogether. With sublingual immunotherapy, patients should see a reduction in symptoms between 30 and 60 days after starting treatment. For long term results, both sublingual and injection serums have a typical treatment regimen between 2- 5 years. Studies show that this year round treatment for 2- 5 years can result in a permanent desensitization that lasts many years after completion. No more allergy symptoms means no more medication of any kind!
Allergy Serum is covered by most extended health care programs and by many government programs. Talk to your pharmacist or your insurance provider to find out if you are covered.
Allergy serum is by prescription only. Talk to your health care provider about proper diagnosis and treatment for your allergies.
While allergy injection serums requires refrigeration, sublingual serums are stable at room temperature.
Sublingual Allergy Drops need to be taken daily to see the best results. Allergy injections are given once a week. Talk to your doctor about the right dosage schedule for you.
Each prescription is a custom solution for each patient according to the type and severity of allergy. Drop prescriptions contain concentrates of the allergen the patient is found to be allergic to upon testing. Antigens are put into a glycerin solution for stability. There are no additional preservatives added.
Allergy immunotherapy can treat a broad range of allergies, including those caused by dust mites, pollen, mould, animals, and seasonal allergies including grass, trees and ragweed. We do not treat food allergies with sublingual or subcutaneous immunotherapy.
The prevalence of allergic disease has more or less doubled in the last 20 years alone. The World Allergy Organization states that between 30% and 40% of the worlds population is now being affected by one or more allergic conditions. Today, less than five percent of Canadian allergy sufferers receive the benefit of immunotherapy — the only treatment that addresses the root cause of allergies. That leaves the vast majority of the allergic population needlessly suffering with allergic disease.
The fact is, Sublingual immunotherapy is clinically proven to be both safe and effective. Sublingual Immunotherapy has been endorsed by the World Health Organization, the World Allergy Organization, the Cochrane Collaboration, and over 700 citations in clinical trials worldwide. Sublingual immunotherapy’s safety and convenience not only broadens the range of candidates for immunotherapy beyond traditional injection immunotherapy, it gives patients a choice that fits their lifestyle.
Western Allergy Services funded the first clinical trial of SLIT in 2001, which was published in the Annals of Allergy in 2004. Our expertise can help your practice integrate custom, patient-specific sublingual immunotherapy using the AAOA SLIT Consensus Group Guidelines.
Until quite recently, widespread adoption amongst the medical community has faced some challenges, in large part due to the variability of sublingual immunotherapy dosing schedules. In response to this, the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy formed with SLIT Working Consensus Group in 2007. Dosage guidelines we established in 2007 and updated again in 2009 based on the findings of the Greer short ragweed data presented at the AAAAI meeting of that year. European guidelines on SLIT dosing are comparable, as are the recommended dosage parameters for SLIT tablets by major manufacturers. Western Allergy Services understands that following this dosage protocol is extremely important to simplifying and standardizing SLIT. Whats more, we know it works. We regularly get excellent feedback from physicians and patients alike.
Patients that have experienced allergy symptoms for more than one season and that have not responded well to pharmacotherapy are excellent candidates for SLIT. Patients on beta blockers, the elderly or severely immunocompromised, and children under the age of 3 are contraindicated for SLIT.
The antigens used in sublingual allergy drops are the same FDA and Health Canada approved antigens used in allergy shots. They’re also prepared in the same way as allergy shots in a GMP lab by trained physicians and pharmacists. The difference is the route of administration — a dispenser that delivers a drop of antigen under the tongue versus a syringe injecting antigen into tissue.
Currently, antigens are labeled by Health Canada for use through injections. Using them for sublingual immunotherapy is an off-label use of a Health Canada approved biologic, which is both legal and highly common. Most physicians prescribe “off-label” use of a myriad of drugs today, for example, the use of blood pressure medications for migraines, aspirin for heart conditions, or the use of arthritis drugs for the treatment of shingles.
Although allergy shots are still considered by many Allergists to be the “gold standard” for allergy treatment in North America, allergy drops constitute more than 85% of allergy treatment prescriptions in Europe. SLIT has been established by leading health authorities worldwide (WHO, WAO, AAAAI, Cochrane Collaboration, AAOA) as effective in relieving allergy and asthma symptoms, decreasing and eliminating the need for symptom management medications, and preventing further sensitivities.
SLIT is more expensive than SCIT, however, there are many hidden costs with SCIT. For example, SCIT patients are required to visit the doctor for each injection and wait for 30 minutes after the injection in office. Time away from work, parking, child care, etc all play a factor in the costs of injection serum. With sublingual, the patient takes the first dose in office, and after that, the patient can take serum at home following a very simple and easy to follow dosage schedule.
Allergy drops have been used around the world for more than 15 years, and numerous studies validate both the safety and effectiveness. The safety profile of SLIT is excellent and far exceeds that of SCIT. A study in 2013 shows that over 15% of Allergists in North America are now prescribing SLIT for their patients, and that number is steadily increasing.