Living with allergies can affect your life in ways that non-allergy sufferers do not understand. For example, to allergy sufferers, simply getting a pet would lead to things like irritated eyes, lung congestion, loss of breath and a whole host of other life-threatening or just irritating symptoms. For some people, allergies come as a surprise. This is because they go through their childhood life and their teenage life without allergies. However, when they reach adulthood, their allergies start to show in full force. Many are caught unaware and wonder how they could have gone their entire life up to that point without having allergies and then suddenly develop them. This is especially true of environmental allergies.
Many allergies are treated with injections. However, not everyone is keen on the idea of getting injections to treat something like environmental allergies. Sublingual, or oral, immunotherapy is an alternative for these people. It is a unique way to treat allergies without forcing a person to get injections. With this process, a doctor gives a patient a minimal dose of an allergen underneath their tongue. Over time, this helps increase the patient’s tolerance to the substance and reduces their symptoms.
Oral immunotherapy is not available for all types of allergies. For right now, the FDA has only approved treatment of this sort to be used for those who are battling with an allergy to environmental allergies, more specifically to rag weed or to grass pollen. There is still more study being done on how effective this therapy is, but the research is promising.
The entire process begins with our medical professional testing the patient. The purpose of the test is to confirm that the patient does have a sensitivity to the allergen they are being treated for. Once this is determined, an extract of the allergen is prepared either as a liquid drop or as a solid tablet. The patient will then keep the drop or the tablet underneath their tongue for a predetermined period of time.
The patient will go through this process approximately three days every week or take a few days off based on the recommendation of the medical professional performing the treatment. The treatment can last for multiple years with the goal of leaving the patient with a lifelong immunity.
With time, a patient will begin to administer their own sublingual immunotherapy treatments at home. They will only do this after they have received specific direction from our specialist. The long-term goal is to allow someone battling with allergies to build up an immunity to what is triggering their allergies, allowing them to live a higher quality of life.
If you are suffering from environmental allergies, oral immunotherapy at Columbia Asthma and Allergy Clinic may be able to help. Contact us today at any of our offices in California, Oregon or Washington to schedule your first appointment.