Immunotherapy can be an effective treatment option for those seeking more long-term relief from allergic rhinitis symptoms. Rather than antihistamines and nasal corticosteroid medications which only provide temporary relief, immunotherapy helps develop the immune system’s tolerance to allergens, thereby decreasing rhinitis symptoms in the long term. Although subcutaneous immunotherapy (SCIT), or allergy shots, are a popular option among allergy sufferers, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) tablets are another alternative that can be administered at home and have a more favorable safety profile than allergy shots.
Sublingual immunotherapy are allergens that are administered in liquid or tablet form under the tongue daily. Currently, there are 4 allergy tablets available: grass pollens, dust mites, and ragweed. SLIT is similar to SCIT in terms of its long-term effectiveness in controlling allergy symptoms with the added benefit of convenience. However, the treatment is limited to the few allergens contained in the 4 FDA-approved tablets currently available. Additionally, treatment costs are typically greater than SCIT due to daily dosing.
Common side effects of SLIT include local reactions to the mouth or lips, such as itching and/or burning, which often stop after a few weeks. Although less common, patients may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms. Similar to allergy shots, there is a possibility of severe allergic reactions, and it is recommended that an epinephrine autoinjector is prescribed to patients undergoing SLIT.
If you or a loved one is seeking a convenient long-term solution for allergic rhinitis and is interested in starting sublingual immunotherapy tablets, schedule a consultation with allergist immunologist Dr. Sandra Ho to discuss your symptoms and treatment options.