While allergy shots have been the gold standard for the long term management of allergy symptoms for over 100 years, Allergists are always looking for ways to provide the same benefit without the discomfort of needles. In Europe, allergists have been using allergy drops under the tongue (in addition to shots) for almost 20 years with good results.
The U.S. has been somewhat slow to adopt allergy drops because of questions about their overall effectiveness as compared to the proven shots. However research over the past few years has shown that they can be effective if higher doses of extract are used. Although the shots are still considered the most effective therapy, drops have found a place for patients who are looking for the added convenience of home therapy.
Drops can be taken safely at home making them more convenient than regular visits to the clinic. Unfortunately, this therapy is not FDA-approved and, as a result, is not covered by any of the major insurance providers.
Our clinic has been administering allergy drops using the same pollens, molds and pet dander found in allergy shots. The drops are taken at home on a daily basis all year round. Drops could be used just seasonally if the patient is allergic only during a single season of the year.
Very similar to drops, the FDA has approved several sublingual tablets recently which do the same thing. Currently there are tablets for grass pollen and ragweed pollen with others expected in the coming years. These tablets are placed under the tongue once a day starting 3-4 months before the beginning of the pollen season and stopped when that season is over. The biggest downside to the tablets is that each tablet only treats ONE trigger. If you have many different allergy triggers then you would have to take a lot of tablets!!
We would be happy to discuss these therapies with you in more detail during your next office visit!