Allergy Treatment Options
Once your allergens are identified via appropriate testing, a completely customized, targeted treatment plan can be created specifically for you.
The first line of therapy is education and avoidance of your allergens.
The second line of therapy is aimed at decreasing your symptoms and the inflammation associated with your allergies.
For allergy symptoms that affect your eyes (i.e. red eyes, itchy eyes, tearing, puffy eyelids, dark circles under your eyes, etc.) you may be instructed to use artificial tears, prescription antihistamine eye drops, frozen peas, etc.. You should not take antihistamine tablets by mouth, especially if you have dry eye, as antihistamines by mouth exacerbate your dryness (from head to toe) as a side effect.
If you have symptoms involving your nose and throat (i.e. a runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat, sore throat, cough, headaches, tiredness, lethargy, sinus congestion, sinusitis, post-nasal drip, etc.) you may be instructed to use various homeopathic over the counter products, such as Arm and Hammer Simply Saline Nasal Mist, to prescription nasal sprays. Again, it is recommended that you refrain from taking antihistamine tablets by mouth because of their drying effect.
The third line of therapy for allergies (and associated medical conditions such as asthma, eczema, psoriasis, postnasal drip and sinusitis) is immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy has been used for decades in the United States and extensively all over the world. There are two ways to administer immunotherapy: subcutaneously, as weekly allergy shots, or by placing drops or tablets under your tongue, known as sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT.
With allergy shots, the allergens to which you are allergic are mixed together, placed in a syringe and administered as an injection given at a weekly doctor’s appointment.
With sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) drops the same group of allergens is mixed together, but instead of putting the mixture into a syringe, it is placed into a small bottle (very similar to a large bottle of eye drops). This bottle is then given to you, along with clear instructions for placing a couple of drops under your tongue once a day in the convenience of your own home; no needles, no weekly doctor’s appointments. Immunotherapy consists of two phases: the escalation phase and the maintenance phase. The escalation phase typically takes six to twelve months, and the maintenance phase typically takes about twenty four months.
Sublingual immunotherapy is safer, more convenient and more comfortable than weekly shots which has been shown to greatly enhance compliance.
Our patients are benefiting greatly from being successfully desensitized using our custom sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) drops.
Immunotherapy is intended to reduce or eliminate your allergy symptoms, associated medical conditions and their symptoms, and your need to take medication. Immunotherapy works by desensitizing you, or recalibrating your immune system by exposing your immune system, in a slow and controlled way, to increasing dosages of your allergens. By doing this, your body learns tolerance and won’t have the same allergic inflammatory reaction upon exposure to your allergens in the future.
Sublingual immunotherapy in drop form has been used throughout Europe and Asia for decades and has been proven to be both safe and effective.
Sublingual immunotherapy drops are a natural, homeopathic way to treat your allergies and can be more cost effective than allergy shots or taking allergy medications. For allergy shots, the cost of the weekly doctor’s appointment typically involves a copay with or without coinsurance and a deductible, time away from work, transportation costs, etc.. The cost associated with medication for symptomatic relief of your allergies can add up over the course of years and the ongoing use of these medications is not very healthy.
The goal of sublingual immunotherapy is the long-term reduction or elimination of the inflammation that is responsible for your allergy symptoms and associated medical conditions, and the reduction of your need to take medications.
Much of the morbidity associated with untreated, or under-treated allergies can be prevented with proper diagnosis and treatment.
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) drops are an example of an FDA approved treatment being used “Off Label”
The FDA Process explained:
In order for a drug or a treatment to be FDA approved, a company must submit clinical data and other information to the FDA for review. The company must show that the drug or treatment is safe and effective for its intended use.
When a drug is approved by the FDA, it is typically approved with specific directions regarding its dosage, frequency and how it should be administered (i.e. by injection, mouth, other). Simply changing the directions as to how a patient should take the drug constitutes an “off label” use of an FDA approved treatment.
Once the FDA approves a drug, a physician can prescribe it with different instructions, in an “unapproved”, or an “off label”, way if the physician feels it’s medically appropriate for his/her patient.
Examples of an “off label” use of an FDA approved drug are:
- Prescribing a different dosage, such as when a drug is approved at a dose of one tablet each day, but a patient is instructed by his/her physician to take two tablets each day.
- Prescribing a drug via a different route of administration, such as when a drug is approved as a capsule, but is instead prescribed as a liquid.
There are three ways to administer immunotherapy for the treatment of environmental allergies:
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) using tablets: allergens in the form of tablets are placed under your tongue (limited to use with some grasses, dust and ragweed only). This method is FDA approved.
Weekly allergy shots where liquid allergens are mixed together, placed in a syringe, and given as an injection. This method is FDA approved.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) using drops (liquid) placed under your tongue. This approach combines the best principles of both of the aforementioned FDA approved methods. Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) using drops simply uses the same FDA approved allergens in liquid form which are used to give weekly allergy shots, but instead of placing them in a syringe, they are placed under your tongue, thus avoiding the need to have them injected into your body.
This simple change in the way the FDA approved liquid is now placed under the tongue (also an FDA approved mode of administration) changes sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) using drops placed under your tongue to an “off label” treatment.
Additional Holistic Allergy Treatments
To reduce sinus congestion:
- Use saline nasal irrigation – rinsing out your sinuses with a salt and water solution often helps.
- You can also try using a neti pot, or a specially designed squeeze bottle, to flush out thickened mucus and irritants from your nose. However, improper use of a neti pot, or other device, can lead to infection.
- Use water that’s distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron, or smaller, to make up the irrigation solution. Prepare the saline solution with the appropriate water, using the mixture supplied by the neti pot or one you make. Be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air dry.
To reduce allergy symptoms from indoor allergens:
- Reduce your exposure to dust mites and pet dander by frequently washing bedding and frequently washing (or eliminating) stuffed toys in hot water, regularly using a vacuum with a fine filter such as a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and replacing carpeting with hard flooring.
- Keep pets off of your bed and furniture.
- Install furnace filters and sleep with a HEPA filter next to your bed.
To reduce allergy symptoms from mold:
- Reduce moisture in damp areas, such as your bathroom and kitchen, by using ventilation fans and dehumidifiers. Fix leaks inside and outside your home.
To reduce allergy symptoms from pollen:
- Stay indoors with the windows closed and air conditioning on on days when pollen counts are high.
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