Sublingual Allergy Drops vs. Allergy Shots
Which is the best choice for you when it comes to treating allergies?
While allergy shots have been used for more than 100 years, is it still the best way to treat allergies?
Allergy Drops = Great Alternative to Allergy Shots Treatment
Those who suffer from allergies know all to well the discomfort and general difficulties that come with allergies. From irritation and embarrassing flare-ups to constant worrying and the chance of potentially fatal exposure, living with allergies comes with a unique and frustrating set of inconveniences. Thankfully, there are several treatment options available today that can help allergy suffers find lasting relief and resistance to their allergies. The two most popular tolerance-building treatments for allergies are allergy shots and allergy drops.
Allergy Drops vs Allergy Shots Quick Comparison
Allergy Shots Treatment
In the area of allergy immunity-building, allergy shots are the oldest and most extensively-tested treatment available today. In fact, allergy shots have been in use for over 100 years to treat allergies – they have been around since the days of the horse and buggy.
Allergy shots were developed by Dr. Robert Cooke because he had a severe horse allergy and in those days his ambulance was a horse and buggy. He came up with allergy shots as a way to desensitize himself to the horse, and he later developed shots for pollen and dust allergies as well. Strangely, in the almost 100 years since this treatment was developed, it has not changed at all! The process still involves going for weekly injections for the first year and trying to build up immunity.
In principle, they work just like vaccines: a patient is administered a shot with a small amount of an allergen. For many people, they do completely eliminate or strongly reduce allergy sensitivities BUT it can take 3-5 years and for many people since they have to go in weekly for treatments they do not complete treatment.
The treatment has been proven to work, but the negative sides are clearly the inconvenience of going to your doctor’s office for the weekly shots. There are also concerns that the shots could cause a severe allergic reaction – a risk patients have to be willing to take. The injection treatment typically lasts 3 to 5 years, and the good news for patients is that insurance companies cover this medical service.
Though allergy shots have historically shown to be effective, they are also painful and must be administered by a trained medical professional every week. This makes them a difficult option for children and patients with busy schedules and compliance for this treatment is typically low at 30-40%.
Allergy Drops Treatment
While a newer treatment to curing allergies, allergy drops are not just some new medication, promising momentary relief by suppressing the symptoms of allergy to give patients temporary relief. Allergy drops, also known as sublingual allergy immunotherapy, are a genuine, breakthrough treatment because instead of targeting the symptoms, allergy drops eradicate the underlying condition that gives rise to the allergic symptoms in the first place which makes it a truly effective allergy cure.
Recently developed as a means of building allergy tolerance, allergy drops build tolerance through the same general process as allergy shots, except they are administered through small drops placed under the tongue and digested by the body over time.
Since allergy drops enter the bloodstream slower, they have a lower risk of inducing adverse reactions such as anaphylactic response in treated patients. Plus, allergy drops are virtually pain-free and can eventually be administrated from the comfort of your own home without the assistance of a medical professional. Not only that, but allergy drops can also be administered to children as young as four years old, thus making them a great choice for families who want to get started on the immunity-building process as soon as possible.
Allergy Drops vs Allergy Shots FAQs
How Often Do I Need to Get Allergy Shots or Take Drops?
Allergy shots are administered once or twice per week in your allergists’ office for the first 3-6 months then once to twice a month for about 3-5 years total.
Allergy drops are self-administered treatment placed once daily under the tongue. Typically, you will visit your allergist up to 4 times a year for check-ups with total treatment taking 3-5 years before you are cured of your allergy.
How Do Allergy Drops and Shots Treatments Work?
Allergy drops and allergy shots are a natural way to assist your immune system in building up its own tolerance to the allergen(s) causing your symptoms. Using your immune system as a barrier to the allergen is the optimal solution for long-lasting results. The mechanism behind allergy immunotherapy is simple and elegant and is analogous to lifting weights. The only way to get stronger is to lift more weight. The more often we do so, the stronger we become and the more efficiently our bodies operate.
Similarly, in allergy immunotherapy, a person’s immune system builds up protective blocking antibodies when you receive gradual, stronger doses of allergy drops. The stimulation to the immune system creates a shift in the immune balance to block allergy symptoms instead of developing such symptoms.
The beauty of allergy drops versus injections is that you are getting small, safe doses daily but at the same time, your body is getting a quantity of medication that is one hundred times higher, which leads to immune protection. By building a tolerance to the allergen, the immune system is learning to tolerate and to stop overreacting to what should be a harmless substance.
Which is Safer – Allergy Drops or Allergy Shots?
Both are considered safe but allergy shots MUST be given under physician supervision as patients receiving shots need to be monitored for 20-30 minutes after receiving the injection to ensure there is no serious allergic reaction. With allergy shots, it is possible to have a systemic reaction which can be severe and even fatal. Allergy injections quickly deliver the allergen into the bloodstream which can trigger a potential allergic reaction and carries the risk of a severe or anaphylactic response.
Allergy drops are extremely safe with no fatal reactions having ever been reported although severe reactions have rarely occurred. Allergy drops can be self-administered at home without direct medical supervision because they include a small, safe dose of the allergen. You get the full benefit of the allergy shot without the shot or possible systemic reaction. One of the main reasons Dr. Dean Mitchell switched from allergy shots to allergy drops was due to the drops being safer than shots with regard to serious allergic reactions.
How Long Does it Take to Start Working? How Long Until I Feel Better?
Allergy shots tend to start working within 3-6 months of starting treatment depending upon how often shots are given. Allergy drops can start working within 8 weeks of starting treatment but with both allergy shots and allergy drops it may take up to 1-2 years to really see dramatic improvement.
During the first year of treatment, you should feel noticeably better. But by the second year, you should not only feel even better but allergic parameters will also show that you are indeed better by medical definition.
Which Treatment Works Better – Allergy Drops or Shots?
Studies suggest that allergy shots can be more effective HOWEVER it depends upon patient compliance which tends to be significantly lower with allergy shots versus allergy drops. Plus, allergy shots have a much higher risk associated with them than allergy drops.
Dr. Mitchell has found that he had only about a 30-40% compliance with patients who had allergy shots compared to 97% compliance with patients using allergy drops to find allergy relief.
Why? With allergy shots, patients have to regularly visit their allergists’ office starting with weekly visits. With allergy drops, the treatment is administered at home with only 1-4 visits to the allergists need per year! Based on this, allergy drops would work better than allergy shots and have less risk.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice (March 2015) published a meta-analysis (which means they looked at and compared multiple published studies) and determined that each of these treatments were equally effective.
How Much Do Allergy Drops and Shots Treatment Cost?
Most health insurance policies will cover a significant amount of the cost of allergy shots although co-pay and deductibles. For allergy drops, it is best to check with your insurance policy to see if they will cover this type of treatment. With either treatment, the cost of your allergy treatment may be offset by using a health savings account. It is best to find an in-network allergist or check your out-of-network insurance coverage for allergy treatment.
When it comes to the cost of allergy drops, if not covered by insurance, you still might find that is a less expensive option due to travel time to and from the allergists’ office each week and the cost of weekly injections.
Sublingual allergy drops are safer than allergy shots, more convenient, and offer long-term protection for both allergies and asthma. Even the worst allergy sufferers have seen a dramatic improvement with allergy drops. Plus, no one likes getting shots (especially children).
Advantages of Allergy Drops
There are a number of advantages of allergy drops or sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) such as:
- you can combine several different allergens in the drop format to allow for treatment of multiple allergies at a time
- drops can be custom made to start at low doses and gradually build up to higher doses – this is VERY important because many allergic patients are highly sensitive to the allergen and this technique avoids side-effects
- there is no risk to an adverse reaction such as anaphylaxis like there is with allergy shots
- the drops taste pretty good
- you can take the drops from the treatment of your home
- less doctor visits
Dr. Mitchell has treated patients with sublingual allergy drops for over 20 years with amazing results!
These allergy drops are not currently covered by insurance companies but we try to make them an affordable price. Currently, they cost slightly more than you would pay in copays for a weekly allergy shot.
Schedule Your Appointment!
At Mitchell Medical Group, we offer holistic, natural treatments for allergies. Give us a call today at 212-397-0157 to schedule your consultation at our Manhattan or Long Island office or Request an Appointment online.
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We have offices in midtown Manhattan and Rockville Centre in Long Island.