Immunotherapy treats the cause of allergies by giving small doses of what a person is allergic to, which increases “immunity” or tolerance to the allergen and reduces the allergic symptoms. Unlike injection immunotherapy, which is given as shots, sublingual immunotherapy is given as drops under the tongue.
The first step is to confirm a patient’s allergies through allergy testing. Then, a custom-mixed vial of drops is prepared for the patient. The patient takes drops under the tongue daily. During the first four months, called the “escalation phase,” the dosage is gradually increased. After that, in the “maintenance phase,” the patient takes the same dose of drops each day.
It is very safe, for both adults and children. Patients take the drops in the convenience of their own homes instead of going to the doctor’s office every week for shots. The World Health Organization (WHO) has endorsed sublingual immunotherapy as a viable alternative to injection immunotherapy.
Many published scientific studies have shown that it significantly reduces allergy symptoms.
We recommend that patients keep using the drops for three to five years so that the body will build up a lasting “immunity.”
Call Dr. Sandra Lin’s office (410-614-6243) for allergy testing and an evaluation to see if you are likely to benefit from sublingual immunotherapy. If you are, the vials take one to two weeks to mix. Dr. Lin will see you once or twice per year to monitor your progress. During therapy, when your last vial is half empty, please call our office to order your new vial.
Most insurance plans do not cover sublingual immunotherapy. It is considered an FDA "off-label" use. It is important to note that when compared with the cost of allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy may be a more economical choice.
The cost is approximately $1.50 per day during the first year and $1 per day after that.
• Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center
• Johns Hopkins at Green Spring Station
Sandra Lin, M.D.