What about patients that suffer from allergic rhinitis and are tired of getting allergy shots at the doctor’s office?  Is there any alternative treatment?  Trees, grasses, and weeds release pollens during specific seasons and have the potential to induce allergic conjunctivitis, rhinitis, and asthma.  If symptoms worsen during early spring, the probable cause is tree pollen.  In the late spring and early summer, tree and grass pollens would be the likely culprits.  From late summer to autumn, weed pollens, especially ragweed is high.  In fact, tree, grass, and weed pollens account for almost all pollen-induced allergies.

While avoiding offending allergens is always the first step in preventing and treating allergic disorders, this approach is sometimes impractical or even impossible.  Although medications can also be a very effective way to control allergic disorders, many people still suffer allergic symptoms despite their use.  In many cases, immunotherapy (also known as allergy injections or desensitization) is the most effective form of treatment for allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and asthma.  Allergic extract is a distillation of allergic components from a crude preparation of an allergen, such as weed, grass, tree pollen, dust, molds, and animal dander.  It is used for diagnostic skin testing and for immunotherapy.  Immunotherapy can alter and lessen the allergic reaction via diluted injections of triggering allergens.  Gradually, the body begins to tolerate, and lessen, its reaction to the allergens.

Sublingual (under the tongue) Immunotherapy (SILT) is an alternative way to treat allergic disorders that has been available in Europe for many years.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved short ragweed, timothy grass, five kinds of northern grass pollens, and dust mite allergen extract tablets for sublingual use.  The first dose of SILT should be administered in a healthcare setting under the supervision of a physician.  An allergist gives the patient a tablet or tablets containing small amounts of allergen(s) under the tongue.  The patient should be observed for at least 30 minutes after receiving the first dose of SILT to monitor for signs or symptoms of a severe systemic or severe local allergic reaction.  If the patient tolerates the first dose well, subsequent doses may be taken at home.  Initial allergy tablet therapy for ragweed or grass should begin at least 4 months before the expected onset of pollen season and continue throughout.  Tablets, especially for dust mite allergy, may also be taken daily for 3-5 years to provide a sustained effect.

SILT offers a safe and convenient treatment option for patients with allergic disorders.  However, the cost of SILT is higher than traditional shot therapy due to increased extract costs associated with daily dosing, especially for patients with multiple allergies.

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