What are Allergy Drops?
Allergy drops are a form of allergy immunotherapy designed to help improve the body’s immune response to an allergen. They are administered sublingually (under the tongue) and are a great alternative for patients averse to allergy shots or whose conditions cannot be treated with allergy shots.
Unlike allergy medications, allergy drops try to get at the root cause of an allergy attack. They address the body’s own immune response to an allergen, training it to limit its response and production of histamines. Sublingual allergy drops are easy to take and offer relief to a wide range of allergy sufferers.
How do Allergy Drops Work?
As a form of immunotherapy, allergy drops work by exposing the body to small amounts of an allergen. This exposure increases over time, desensitizing the immune system to the allergen. Under ideal circumstances, the body becomes tolerant of the allergen and the patient experiences far fewer and much less severe symptoms when exposed to allergens.
Sublingual allergy treatment does not work on every patient. Currently, allergy drops are used to treat:
- Ragweed allergies
- Timothy grass allergies
- Dust mite allergies
Allergy drops can also work on those with allergies to a combination of five grass species. They are not a viable option for those with food allergies.
Allergy Shots vs. Allergy Drops
Allergy shots and allergy drops both offer a range of benefits to allergy sufferers. They each have their pros and cons, however. Understanding these differences can help patients determine which option might be best for their needs.
- Duration – Both interventions take the same amount of time (approx. 3 to 5 years)
- Side effects – Allergy drops can cause symptoms associated with allergies such as rhinitis, as well as a tingly mouth. Allergy shots can have similar side effects, but also have a small risk of anaphylaxis.
- Cost – Depending on the treatment plan, patients may see some cost savings with allergy drops.
- Convenience – Allergy shots can only be administered at the doctor’s office, requiring a visit. Patients can self-administer allergy drops, on the other hand, wherever they are.
What Kinds of Allergies can Allergy Drops Cure?
The FDA has approved the use of allergy drops in the treatment of allergies associated with just four allergens:
- Timothy grass
- Dust mites
- A five-grass combination
Patients will need a separate course of treatment for each allergen. Patients with allergies to other substances should consult with their allergist to see what alternatives they have to allergy drops.
Allergy Drops Side Effects
As with any medical procedure, the administration of allergy drops can result in some side effects. Allergy drop side effects are limited. Allergy drops side effects include developing a tingly feeling in the mouth and experiencing some allergy symptoms. For this reason, it is important that patients adhere to monitoring protocols when first receiving allergy drops.
What to Expect During an Allergy Drops Appointment?
The patient’s first allergy drops appointment is the longest and most complex one. This is because it involves a 30-minute monitoring period after administration of the allergy drops. Monitoring a patient is crucial, and ensures that the patient will have medical help on hand if necessary.
If a patient tolerates the allergy drops well during the first appointment, they will self-administer all subsequent doses independently at home. Any patient who experiences any symptoms or changes while taking allergy drops should notify their doctor or allergist immediately.
Allergy Drops FAQ
How Long Do I Need To Take Allergy Drops?
Results vary from patient to patient. Some patients will see an almost complete resolution of symptoms. Others may need ongoing treatment. In general, treatment with allergy drops takes about five years.
Are Allergy Drops Covered by Insurance?
Patients should check with their carrier regarding coverage for allergy drops. If allergy drops are not covered, they may qualify for reimbursement via an HSA or Flex Spending account.
Are Sublingual Allergy Drops FDA Approved?
The FDA has approved only four types of allergy drops: ones for Timothy grass, ragweed, dust mites, and a five-grass combination.