Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)

Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) is a process in which an allergic patient can become desensitized to pollens and other inhalant allergens like molds and pets, and foods that trigger allergic rhinitis (nasal congestion), allergic conjunctivitis (itchy, teary eyes), asthma, eczema and other allergic conditions. Small doses of the actual allergic substance are placed under the tongue daily, and the dose is gradually increased each week until a “maintenance” dosage is achieved. A protective antibody, Immunoglobulin G, is gradually formed to block the allergic reaction. Improvement induced by SLIT is gradual. Many patients notice an improvement within the first 3 months. Progress is evaluated every 3 to 6 months.

How Long Should Someone Receive Immunotherapy?

A two-year period is adequate to assess the treatment. Once maintenance full dose therapy has been achieved, one should notice a significant improvement in symptoms. At year 3 or 4 a trial discontinuing vaccine therapy can be considered. After SLIT is stopped, symptoms may return at a rate of 20% the first year, 30% the second, and up to 40% after three or more years. With food allergies the relapse rate is variable due to their nature. (Milk and egg food allergies are usually outgrown, nut are rarely outgrown.)

Who Might Consider SLIT?

SLIT is recommended for patients with significant allergies, including seasonal allergies (hay fever), or chronic allergies (mite, pet, or mold). When these allergies result in 1) bothersome symptoms, 2) frequent upper respirator infections (sinusitis), 4) eczema, 5) sinus headaches, 6) food allergies, 7 asthma, 8) require an “excess” of medications such as daily medication for control then SLIT is usually helpful.

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