vs Allergy Shots
Allergy Drops – The Preferred Treatment
Sublingual Immunotherapy treatment of allergies, also known as allergy drops, are quickly growing in popularity and availability because of their convenience and effectiveness. Our team at Advanced ENT & Allergy Center began focusing on allergy drops in 2005. Fast forward to today and we have moved exclusively to recommending sublingual immunotherapy because of the overwhelming response from patients on how convenient, manageable, safe and effective the treatment is, especially when compared to allergy shots. Over 94 percent of patients are able to stop taking their allergy medication regularly once the drops take effect (for most people usually around the three-month mark).
Treating seasonal allergies has always been a core part of our medical practice and for many years, like most other allergists in the United States, we treated our patients with allergy shots. However, because allergy shots require patients to make weekly or monthly office visits for 4-5 years, many patients couldn’t complete the lengthy and onerous program. After extensive research on alternatives to allergy shots, we transitioned to using allergy drops as the preferred method for treating seasonal allergies.
Are Allergy Drops as Effective as Shots?
Allergy drops and allergy shots are equally effective treatments for decreasing asthma and seasonal allergy symptoms – a conclusion that is supported by research from National Jewish as well as the World Health Organization (WHO). That means patients can choose a treatment plan that best suits their lifestyle based on convenience, safety and cost.
How Frequently Are Shots or Drops Taken?
If you choose allergy shots, you’ll receive one or two shots per week at your doctor’s office for the first three to six months. After that, you’ll get one or two shots per month for three to five years. If you choose allergy drops, you’ll administer the drops under your tongue daily from home for three to five years.
How Quickly Do Shots or Drops Start Working?
Allergy shots begin working as early as four months, but usually take up to a year for patients to experience the full benefit. Allergy drops begin working a little sooner, as early as four weeks, but also take about a year for patients to experience the full benefit.
Which Treatment Is Safer?
Both allergy shots and allergy drops are considered safe treatments, but it’s important to know that there are reported deaths related to allergy shots every year. There has never been a reported fatality related to allergy drop treatment. Allergy drops have been used in Europe dating back to the 1900’s and rose in popularity in 1986 after more than 25 allergy shot deaths were reported in England alone. In 1998, the World Health Organization began supporting sublingual immunotherapy treatment of allergies and other health organizations followed closely behind.
Are Allergy Drops FDA Approved?
Allergy drops use the same FDA-approved antigens as allergy shots – the only difference is the route of administration (injection vs. oral). The FDA has approved four sublingual therapies in the United States – these are all pill-form and include:
- Oralair – Treats northern grass allergies
- Grastek – Treats timothy grass allergies
- Ragwitek – Treats short ragweed allergies
- Odactra – Treats allergies for dust mites
While we use all four of these therapies, we always personalize each patient’s treatment plan in order to achieve the best, most long-lasting results.
Insurance typically covers allergy shot treatments. You may have a copay for each office visit, ranging from $10-$20 each time. Without insurance, allergy shots can cost over $1,000 per year. All insurance plans are different and we advise all patients to contact their insurance provider to learn cost information related to their specific coverage.
Allergy drops are not covered by insurance and cost about $2 a day. For more information about the cost of allergy shots and allergy drops, please contact our office.
Allergy Shots vs Allergy Drops
In our long history of treating patients in Colorado, our team has helped thousands of patients achieve lasting relief from their allergy symptoms using both allergy shots and allergy drops. As medicine and the patient experience has changed in the last few years, we find that we achieve higher compliance rates and overall success with patients who use allergy drops. Patients are more compliant with the allergy drop treatment because it’s easier to administer a drop under your tongue at home than to drive to an office, wait in a waiting room, and get a shot each week. For most of our patients, allergy drops are a better solution.
We would love the opportunity to work with you to identify what you are allergic to and finding the right solution for your lifestyle. Call us today to schedule a consultation with one of our specialty trained providers.
Frequently Asked Allergy Questions
An allergy is an abnormal reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance (called an allergen)such as tree pollen. When an allergen enters the body of an allergic person, that person’s immune systems views the allergen as an invader. White blood cells of the immune system produce IgE antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to special cells called mast cells, causing a release of potent chemicals like histamine. These chemicals cause symptoms – a runny nose, watery eyes, itching and sneezing.
Allergies can affect anyone. While it’s true that allergies are more common in children, they can occur for the first time at any age. Although we don’t understand the exact genetic factors yet, heredity is definitely linked to the tendency to allergies, as well as to allergic disease.
Thousands of ordinary substances can trigger allergic reactions. These are called “allergens.” Among the most common allergens in Denver are plant pollens, molds, household dust (dust mites), animal dander, foods, medicines, and insect stings.
Since a hyperactive immune system causes allergies, most people with allergy symptoms respond to allergens present in every season (trees in the spring, grasses in the summer, ragweeds in the fall, and mold in the winter).