Allergy Treatments

Our office is dedicated to providing our patients with the most advanced, comprehensive and effective allergy treatments. Because no two patients are exactly the same, we provide a wide range of treatment modalities, so that we can employ the one best suited for your individual needs. Depending on the type and severity of your allergies, we may recommend a range of treatments such as:

Allergy Shots (SCIT)

Allergy shots (also called subcutaneous immunotherapy, or SCIT) is one of the best treatments available for your allergies and asthma. It is one of the few disease-modifying therapies available in medicine and targets the underlying cause of various allergic conditions. SCIT offers the potential of improving asthma control, providing relief from allergy and sinus symptoms, and reducing the need for medicines in the future.  In children, allergy shots are particularly helpful as they can reduce the risk of becoming more allergic or developing asthma later in life.

What are allergy shots?

Allergy shots contain all-natural proteins from allergens found in the environment. Patients are first tested to determine what they are allergic to. Based on these results, customized allergen extract vials are then produced for each patient. The serum from these vials is injected underneath the skin.

How do allergy shots work?

By giving increasing doses of allergen proteins in the body, our immune system starts to recognize and become tolerant to these substances. Once tolerance is achieved with an SCIT regimen, we don't experience allergic inflammatory reactions when exposed to allergens in the environment. Ultimately, this leads to improved symptoms and less reliance on medications. Studies have shown a sustained effect of symptom relief for many years after the completion of an SCIT regimen.

What's involved in allergy shots?

Regimens for allergy shots include two phases: the build-up phase, and the maintenance phase.  Allergy injection build-up is the process of  gradual dose increases working up to the target or therapeutic dose. This allows the body time to get used to receiving something it is allergic to. Once the target dose has been achieved, this dose is maintained for a period of 3-5 years in most patients. It is during this maintenance phase that the immune system becomes tolerant and shifts from being allergic to becoming non-allergic. Although allergy shots are not a cure for allergies, it acts on the immune system to prevent the allergic response from even starting, as opposed to just treating symptoms once they occur.  Each patient is different and both build-up and maintenance can be customized to meet individual needs.

What are the risks of allergy shots?

Most reactions to shots are localized and appear as redness or swelling at the injection site. This typically occurs within a couple of hours of the injection and clears up soon afterwards. Systemic reactions are much less common and can range in severity. Most reactions are mild and include symptoms such as itching, sneezing, congestion, or hives. Rarely, a more serious systemic reaction (or anaphylaxis) can occur that may lead to coughing, wheezing, swelling of the throat, or dizziness.  Most systemic reactions occur within the first 30 minutes of the injection, which is why it is important that injections are only administered in a medical facility where patients can be observed during this time.

ALLERGY DROPS (SLIT)

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), often called 'allergy drops' is an alternative to traditional allergy shots.  SLIT uses allergens administered in a liquid or tablet form under the tongue to achieve immune changes similar to that seen with allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy or SCIT).

What is sublingual immunotherapy?

SLIT is currently being used in Europe and in some South American countries alongside SCIT.  SLIT is not currently FDA approved in the United States, but research in both the US and abroad have shown sublingual immunotherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for allergic rhinitis.  Partners in Allergy and Asthma offers SLIT in carefully selected patients.

Safety

SLIT appears to have a favorable safety profile. The most common side effects include occasional problems with mild itching/burning of the mouth or lip. Other systemic symptoms such as runny nose or upset stomach, are much less common. Rarely, increased asthma symptoms have been noted. More severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) have been reported, but appear to be very rare. These features allow the option for SLIT to be administered at home.

Effectiveness

The effectiveness of SLIT for allergic rhinitis has been studied in both adults and children. A large review of over 100 research studies demonstrated that about 1/3 of these studies showed significant improvement in symptoms, while 1/3 showed no significant benefit. The variation in effectiveness has been attributed to the differences in the dose of allergen used for the various symptoms. The higher doses of allergen appear to have the largest impact on symptom improvement. Comparatively, successful SLIT is more effective than available antihistamines, but not as effective as allergy shots. Recent data also suggests that SLIT may improve symptoms of eczema (atopic dermatitis) in young children.

Who should be treated with sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)?

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) may be a good option for the needle-phobic or those who do not tolerate SCIT.  This option can also be used if SCIT becomes inconvenient.  Our SLIT is not homeopathy; rather it is a high potency immunotherapy that has proven to be effective. Patients have chosen this, even though it is not yet covered by insurance.