Sublingual Immunotherapy

Yellow substances in small white-capped bottles

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, or allergy drops.

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 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 it?

Those suffering from a range of allergies – including pollen, grass, animal dander and dust mites – who don’t respond favorably to traditional treatment methods like decongestants and antihistamines are good candidates for allergy drops.

Advantages of allergy drops versus traditional immunotherapy include ease of use (patients can treat themselves at home as no needles are required) and decreased danger of side effects or allergic reactions.