Your Heart Your HealthFebruary 2023
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by Kristy Como Armand
Allergy symptoms can occur any time of the year and impact the daily life of those who suffer from this chronic condition. Now, a new treatment option, sublingual immunotherapy, is giving those with allergies an easier way to find relief.
In the United States, allergies are the sixth leading cause chronic illness. There is no cure for allergies, but immunotherapy, previously only available in injections, can help reduce a person’s sensitivity, or allergic response, to allergens. Immunotherapy works by delivering small doses of what a person is allergic to in order to allow their immune system to make ‘blocking antibodies’ to the allergens, thereby reducing allergy symptoms. This treatment addresses the underlying cause of allergies, rather than the symptoms, and may even eliminate allergies completely for some people.
Dr. Bridget Loehn and Dr. Blake LeBlanc, specialists with the ENT & Allergy Clinic of Imperial Health, now offer sublingual immunotherapy, commonly called allergy drops, as an alternative to allergy shots.
“We are excited to have an alternative approach to treating allergies without using injections. Unlike injection immunotherapies, which are given in the office, allergy drops are prescribed and taken in the comfort of your home,” says Dr. Loehn. “This added convenience makes the drops a more appealing option for many patients.”
Dr. LeBlanc says patients who qualify for immunotherapy are typically those who have tried other treatment options but have experienced little or no relief. “If you have suffered with allergies for years and have not been able to find relief with antihistamines, nasal sprays, or other allergy symptom treatments, and you’re having multiple sinus infections, recurrent ear infections, getting pneumonia frequently, having repeated asthma flares, or other chronic allergic-driven symptoms, you should consider getting tested to see if you qualify for immunotherapy.”
The first step is finding out what you’re allergic to through allergy testing. Testing is done via a skin prick test. During this test, the skin is exposed to suspected allergy-causing substances (allergens) and is then observed for signs of an allergic reaction. Based on that information, doctors can prescribe a drop formulation to address an individual’s specific allergies.
Allergy drops can be prescribed for children as well as adults. Dr. Loehn says side effects are rare and if they occur, are typically mild and local, with the most common being itching and irritation. These are more likely with the first doses, and then lessen with time.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to be evaluated for immunotherapy allergy drops, call (337) 312-8321.