An allergy is a reaction of your immune system to something that does not bother most other people. People who have allergies often are sensitive to more than one thing.
Substances that often cause reactions are:
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
- Pet dander
- Insect stings
How do you get allergies? Scientists think both genes and the environment have something to do with it. Normally, your immune system fights germs. It is your body's defense system. In most allergic reactions, however, it is responding to a false alarm.
Allergies can cause a runny nose, sneezing, itching, rashes, swelling or asthma. Symptoms vary. Although allergies can make you feel bad, they usually won't kill you. However, a severe reaction called anaphylaxis is life-threatening.
Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by your body's immune system. Allergic reactions to food can sometimes cause serious illness and death. Tree nuts and peanuts are the leading causes of deadly allergic reactions called anaphylaxis.
In adults, the foods that most often trigger allergic reactions include:
- Fish and shellfish, such as shrimp, lobster and crab
- Tree nuts, such as walnuts
Problem foods for children are eggs, milk (especially in infants and young children) and peanuts.
Sometimes a reaction to food is not an allergy. It is often a reaction called "food intolerance". Your immune system does not cause the symptoms of food intolerance. However, these symptoms can look and feel like those of a food allergy.
Allergy tests are any of several tests used to determine the substances to which a person is allergic.
How the Test is Performed
There are many methods of allergy testing. Among the more common are:
- Skin tests
- Food elimination and challenge tests
- Blood tests (including the radioallergosorbent test, or RAST
Allergy Injection Hours:
Monday morning 7:30-8:15
Monday afternoon 2:30-4:00
Tuesday morning 8-10
Tuesday afternoon 3-5
Wednesday morning 8-10
Wednesday afternoon 2:30-4
Thursday morning 8-10
Thursday afternoon 3-4:30
***Times are subject to change.
Skin tests are the most common. Specific methods vary.
One of the most common methods is the prick test. This test involves placing a small amount of suspected allergy-causing substances on the skin, usually the forearm, upper arm, or the back. Then, the skin is pricked so the allergen goes under the skin's surface. The health care provider closely watches the skin for signs of a reaction, usually swelling and redness of the site. Results are usually seen within 20 minutes. Several allergens can be tested at the same time.
A similar method involves injecting a small amount of allergen into the skin and watching for a reaction at the site. This is called an intradermal skin test.
Skin tests are most useful for diagnosing:
- Insect bite allergies
- Mold, pollen, animal, and other allergies that cause allergic rhinitis and asthma
- Penicillin allergy
Allergies to penicillin and closely related medications are the only drug allergies that can be tested using skin tests. Skin tests for allergies to other drugs can be dangerous.
The prick skin test may also be used to diagnose food allergies. Intradermal tests are not used to test for food allergies because of high false positive results and the danger of causing a severe allergic reaction.
FOOD ELIMINATION AND CHALLEGE TESTS
An elimination diet can be used to check for food allergies. An elimination diet is one in which foods that may be causing symptoms are removed from the diet for several weeks and then slowly re-introduced one at a time while the person is watched for signs of an allergic reaction.
Another version of this diet is the double-blind test. This method involves giving foods and harmless substances in a disguised form. The person being tested and the provider are both unaware of whether the substance tested in that session is the harmless substance or the suspected food. A third party knows the identity of the substances and identifies them with some sort of code. This test requires several sessions if more than one substance is under investigation.
While the double-blind strategy is useful and practical for mild allergic reactions, it must be done carefully in individuals with suspected severe reactions to foods. Blood tests may be a safer first approach.
Blood tests can be done to measure the amount of immunoglobulin (Ig) E antibodies in the blood. This test may be used when skin testing is not helpful or cannot be done
Other blood tests include:
- Absolute eosinophil count
- Blood differential
- Serum immunoglobulin electrophoresis
Allergy Desensitization Immunotherapy with Allergy Shots
Allergy Shots - Subcutaneous Immunotherapy (SCIT)
Allergy Drops - Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)
Allergy drop treatment works similar to shots by delivering a slowly increasing dose of physician-prescribed antigen that, over time, builds the body’s tolerance. The difference is that the drops are placed under the tongue and affect the immune system through very specialized cells found under the tongue. Research shows these cells are a friendlier and effective route for long-term desensitization, making it an ideal option for patients who aren’t candidates for shots. Patients take allergy drops each day for three to five years.
Are Allergy Drops Safe and Effective?
Allergy drops have been used around the world for more than 60 years, and many studies show that allergy drops are safe and effective. Dosing levels and the route of administration are safe enough to effectively treat infants, children, and people suffering from chronic conditions that previously made them unable to receive immunotherapy via shots.
In fact, the World Health Organization has endorsed sublingual immunotherapy as a viable alternative to injection therapy.
The well-respected Cochrane Collaboration, the world’s most-trusted international organization dedicated to reviewing healthcare treatments, recently concluded allergy drop immunotherapy significantly reduced allergy symptoms and use of allergy medications.
What You Need To Know
Allergy drops for inhalant allergies are taken three times a day, every day. Allergy drops for food allergies are available at an additional cost. At this time, FDA approval for Sublingual Immunotherapy is pending. Therefore there are no acceptable codes for us to file claims with insurance. While overall allergy drops are cost effective, the patient is responsible for the entire cost of the treatment.
How To Proceed
Once you have completed all allergy testing and you and your physician decide allergy drops are the right choice for you, we are able to proceed with treatment.
You will need to pay for your allergy drops before they can be ordered. Cash, Check, Master Card, Visa, or Discover, are accepted.
At the time of payment you will receive a receipt for your allergy drops. This is the only documentation we can provide for Sublingual allergy treatment.
When your allergy drops are available, you will be given a call with a time to come to the allergy department to pick them up. This will normally be during regular injection hours. The first dose will be administered in office, to make sure you tolerate the drops. At the end of the 20 minute trial period you will be able to take your drops home.
You will receive enough allergen to last 3 months. When your drops are getting low, you will need to notify the office ahead of time. You can pay for your new drops over the phone at that time, using an acceptable credit card. For phone orders, you will receive a receipt, when you pick up your drops.
Sublingual Immunotherapy Treatment Is Similar To Injection Therapy
Testing & Evaluation
Our first step is to confirm which allergies are present and how severe they are. Patient history plays a large role here. Skin testing is used to confirm potential allergies. In Most cases we use a combination of Prick Testing and Intradermal Skin Tests to help assess how severe the allergy may be. In vitro (blood) testing may be used to identify food and inhalant allergies. Periodic Intradermal skin testing, during the course of treatment is used to monitor desensitization progress.
Once allergies are confirmed, we help patients find ways to avoid allergens by suggesting changes in diet and lifestyle when possible.
To help reduce symptoms, you might be prescribed medications, such as non-sedating antihistamines and nose sprays. As treatment continues, most patients find their need for medication decreases.
Allergy drops, customized for the patient’s specific allergies, helps alter the disease state so that eventually, allergic reactions are no longer a problem. With allergy drops, patients are able to be treated at home. Your physician will monitor your progress throughout your care.
What is sublingual immunotherapy
Unlike most allergy drugs – which treat only symptoms – sublingual immunotherapy addresses the underlying causes of allergies. Allergy drops are administered in gradually increasing dosages until the patient develops a tolerance to the allergy-causing substance.
What is an antigen
An antigen is an allergy-causing 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
The benefit of sublingual immunotherapy is that a broad range of allergies, including those caused by dust mites, pollen, mold, animals, and foods can be treated.
Is it safe and effective
Sublingual immunotherapy has been used in various parts of the world for 60-plus years. More than 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals prove that sublingual treatment is both safe and effective.
What are advantages of allergy drops
Allergy drops are a safe, effective treatment for young children, asthmatics, the highly reactive and those with underlying medical conditions that prevent them from being candidates for injection therapy. Allergy drops also offer an option for immunotherapy for those who are unable to make it into office weekly for allergy injections.
Can I switch from Allergy Injections
Yes, with an order from your physician at ENT Surgical Consultants. However, it is not advised to switch back and forth
Most patients report not noticing much taste at all. The allergens are normally preserved in a 50% glycerin preservative, therefore, they may have a sweet taste. Occasionally some patients report a more noticeable taste. This is an individual response.
Side effects to allergy drops are minimal. You may experience some localized reaction of itchiness, slight numbness, or a tingling sensation. You may also notice some stomach discomfort. If you experience side effects, call the allergy department for directions. (Reminder: the allergy department is open Mon-Thurs.)
Click here for For more Information about Sublingual Immunotherapy
Immunotherapy Comparison Chart
||Subcutaneous Immunotherapy - SCIT
||Sublingual Immunotherapy - SLIT
||$1600 per year
||$720 per year
||Transportation costs to the office and time commitment (20 minutes wait in office after each weekly treatment.)
Not for inhalant allergens.
There is additional cost of $180 per vial for pre-seasonal and food vials if needed.
||Yes, yet still responsible for deductible and co-payments.
||Yes, there is a risk of a injection site localized reaction, asthma flare-up or anaphylaxis.
||May be 1-4 shots which can cause pain.
|Location of Treatment
||Generally administered in our office only.
|Frequency of Administration
||Once a week initially.
||Three times a day placing drops under the tongue for 30 seconds, then swallow.
|Duration of Treatment
|Appropriate for infants or young children (<6 years old), or patient’s with severe asthma, high sensitivity, difficult work or school schedules, live a far distance from the office,
||Not in general, however exceptions do exist.
|Pre-seasonal Dosing Available
||Yes. @ $180 additional per vial.
||30-50% Patient dependent.
||80-97% Patient dependent.
||No, it is a off labeled route of administration of an FDA approved medication.