Other Options to Allergy Shots?

Allergy shots not your thing? A newer method of immunotherapy is slowly spreading in the United States. With sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) you receive progressive doses of allergens as drops placed under your tongue. SLIT is widely used in other countries, including Canada.

In 2014, the first oral immunotherapy pill (Oralair) was approved in the United States. This once-daily medication is placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve (called sublingual administration) to treat allergic rhinitis with or without conjunctivitis. The first dose is giving in a health care provider's office—to monitor for adverse reactions and severe side effects—and subsequent doses can be taken at home. Oralair is approved for children 10 years of age and older and adults 65 years of age and younger with allergies to grass pollen.

Studies show that Oralair can lessen the severity of allergy symptoms and reduce the need for allergy medications in 16 to 30 percent if people who take the drug. It contains the extracts of 5 different grass pollens. Therapy is started about 4 months before grass allergy season and continues throughout the season. Side effects in adults include itching and swelling of the ears, mouth, and tongue, and reactions in children include itching and swelling in the mouth and throat irritation. Oralair has a boxed warning cautioning about the potential for a life-threatening reaction—called anaphylaxis.

Research suggests SLIT may also be helpful to allergies to dust mites, ragweed, cat dander and tree pollens.

Other experimental approaches that appear promising include intralymphatic immunotherapy (ILIT), where allergens are injected into a lymph node instead of under the skin, and epicutaneous immunotherapy (EPIT), which is delivered via skin patch. In one small study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, ILIT safely eased cat allergies in study subjects after only three injections. A 132-person study published in the same journal found that EPIT reduced pollen allergy sensitivity in the year the EPIT was given and the year afterward.

Source: Adapted from our sister publication Remedy's Healthy Living Spring 2013; Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at Healthcommunities.com

Published: 21 Feb 2013

Last Modified: 24 Feb 2015