Allergy Drops FAQ
What is sublingual immunotherapy?
Unlike most allergy drugs – which treat only symptoms – sublingual immunotherapy (better known as allergy drops) addresses the underlying causes of allergies. At the cellular level, allergy drops work by introducing your immune system to small amounts of what you are actually allergic to. Repeated exposure over an extended period of time causes your body to make blocking antibodies to your allergenic triggers, eventually stopping the allergic reaction from taking place. Allergy drops are administered at home, under the tongue, in gradually increasing dosages until the patient develops a tolerance to the allergy-inducing substance. With continuous use of the drops, patients have seen their allergy symptoms go away forever.
What is an antigen?
An antigen is an allergy-inducing substance. Examples include dust, pollen, mold, insect venom and specific foods such as fish, wheat, corn and eggs.
What kind of allergies can be treated with allergy drops?
At Advanced ENT Allergy Center, we treat allergies specific to the Denver, Colorado area. Our allergy testing panel includes the most common environmental inhalant allergens in Colorado and the surrounding region. We test for allergies to dust, cats, dogs, feathers, horses and the most prevalent trees, molds, weeds, brush and grasses in the area.
Are allergy drops safe and effective?
Sublingual immunotherapy has been used in various parts of the world for more than 60 years. In all these years of treatment, not one case of anaphylaxis has been reported. Additionally, over 100 scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals have endorsed sublingual immunotherapy as both a safe and effective allergy treatment option. (For more info about scientific evidence, visit www.lacrosseallergy.com).
Can children take allergy drops?
Yes! Children from infancy on up can be treated with allergy drops. Children are great candidates for allergy drops for a number of reasons. They are very safe and there have been no reported anaphylactic reactions from sublingual immunotherapy. Since drops are painless and simply placed under the tongue, fear of needles is no longer an issue. Sports are a problem for children on allergy shots as the recommendation is not to exercise 2 hours before or after a shot. With allergy drops, this is no longer a problem, since there are no restrictions on exercise before or after taking them. Because sublingual therapies use carefully measured frequent doses to treat allergic conditions, they can be mixed at doses that are safe for children of all ages – including infants. In fact, treating allergies in children early on can prevent their allergies from developing into related conditions like asthma and chronic sinusitis as they grow up.
How do the drops work?
Allergy drop treatment, like allergy shot treatment, works by delivering a slowly increasing dose of FDA approved antigen that, over time, builds the body’s tolerance. Drops are placed under the tongue and affect the immune system through very specialized cells found there. Research shows these cells are a friendly and effective route for long-term desensitization, making allergy drops an ideal option for patients who can’t receive allergy shots due to time constraints and/or medical conditions.
How long do I have to stay on the drops?
Most of our Denver, Colorado patients take allergy drops for three to five years. Allergies are retested annually and the strength of their drops are adjusted accordingly. It does not take three to five years for patients to start feeling relief from their allergy symptoms, however. Most patients report that their symptoms start to subside and that they are needing to take few antihistamines in conjunction with their drops after only three to four months of use.
How do I take the drops?
We recommend that you take 2 doses in the morning and one dose at night. We have found that associating allergy drops with brushing your teeth helps patients remember to take them as recommended. We recommend brushing your teeth and then taking your dose of allergy drops.
What do allergy drops taste like?
The allergy serums are mixed with a glycerin base which gives the allergy drops a sweet taste.
How much do the drops cost?
Compared to allergy shots, allergy drops cost less and require fewer clinic visits. The typical monthly cost of drops is comparable to prescription allergy medication co-pays and is generally less expensive than a one-month supply over-the-counter allergy medications.
Will my insurance cover the cost of allergy drops?
The use of allergy drops is relatively new to the insurance industry. Therefore, a specific billing/reimbursement code has not yet been established. We have been lobbying insurance companies for years to cover the cost of drops, and will continue fighting for this in the coming years. Currently, we are not able to bill your insurance carrier for this service and drops are offered to our patients on a cash basis only. We can however, process your drops through your health savings account or flex account.
Will I still need to take my allergy medicines every day after I start taking allergy drops?
Many patients find that their need for allergy medication decreases soon after allergy drop therapy begins. You may use antihistamines like Claritin, Zyrtec, Astepro, etc. as needed while the drops start to build up your immune system’s tolerance to your specific allergens. Over time, most patients find that they don’t need to take any allergy medicines in conjunction with their allergy drops.
I’m interested in allergy drops, what do I do now?
Your first step is to make an appointment in our office. Make sure to let our receptionist know that you think you have allergies. This way, we can allot time for your testing on the day of your visit. There are medication restrictions before the testing. Please see our main allergy page for this list of medicines. We look forward to seeing you in the near future!