With Iowa’s fall allergy season in full swing, you may be tired of fighting your seasonal allergies. If you’re looking for a new allergy treatment so you can minimize your allergy symptoms (or even eliminate them altogether), allergy drops might be right for you.
What are allergy drops?
Allergy drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy, are part of our immunotherapy treatment. They’re relatively new to the allergy scene in the U.S. but are a great alternative to traditional allergy shots.
How does immunotherapy work for allergies?
Immunotherapy is a preventive allergy treatment. It works to build up a patient’s tolerance to the things they’re allergic to (also referred to as “allergens”). The goal of immunotherapy is to minimize or prevent allergy symptoms from being triggered by those allergens.
With immunotherapy, we slowly increase your exposure to your allergen(s). This can be done via injections or—at Iowa ENT Center—by allergy drops. Over time, the immune system becomes desensitized to the allergen. That reduces the frequency and severity of your allergic reactions.
The success rate of immunotherapy is very high. About 85% of immunotherapy patients reported that their allergy symptoms were either eliminated or significantly reduced.
Allergy drops are just as effective as allergy shots. In fact, many patients see results more quickly.
How do allergy drops work?
The first step to using allergy drops for immunotherapy is allergy testing. This helps to identify what exactly you’re allergic to (your allergens) so we can formulate a custom extract for your treatment. This is what the pharmacy puts in your allergy drops. Your specific extract can contain multiple allergens.
Once your extract is formulated, you’re ready to get started. The first dose of your drops is taken at Iowa ENT Center. We’ll show you how to place the drops under your tongue. You hold the drops there for about a minute, and then you can swallow.
After your first drops at our office, you can take them yourself in your home or workplace (or anywhere!). You’ll take the drops every day. At the beginning of the process, most patients start at a low concentration of extract and work their way up to a maintenance dose with a higher concentration.
Each vial of drops lasts around one or two months (depending on your dose). The total treatment lasts about a year.
Can children take allergy drops?
Yes, allergy drops can be used with kids’ immunotherapy. It’s best to use the drops with kids no younger than two, as kids need to be able to keep the drops in their mouth for one minute before swallowing.
Do allergy drops have side effects?
With allergy drops, side effects tend to be mild and sometimes don’t surface at all. Drops may cause tingling in the mouth and/or some mild tongue swelling, but these side effects typically resolve themselves within the first two vials.
It’s incredibly rare for anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction, to be triggered by allergy drops. For someone with severe allergies, it’s always a good idea to carry an EpiPen anyway just in case.
What do allergy drops cost?
Allergy drops aren’t typically covered by insurance, although the rest of immunotherapy is usually covered by most insurance plans. If your Iowa ENT Center physician recommends immunotherapy, we can give you an estimate for allergy drops vs. allergy shots so you can make an informed decision.
Get help with your allergies
Iowa ENT Center offers multiple treatment options for patients that suffer from allergies. To learn more about allergy drops and to see if they’re right for you, call us at 515-223-4368, or request an appointment online.