March 6, 2023

Sublingual Immunotherapy as an Alternative to Allergy Shots

Allergy is a condition that affects almost anyone. It occurs when a person overreacts to environmental substances that are harmless to others, such as pollen, animal dander, certain foods, dust mites, and medications. It can significantly impact someone's quality of life. Many people may feel anxious about their symptoms and avoid certain activities or places.

Fortunately, thanks to allergy shots, people can manage their symptoms and live better lives. However, others avoid this treatment because they fear needles and the inconvenience.

For this reason, they’re investing in alternatives like sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). This method treats allergies by exposing the body to small amounts of the allergen through drops or tablets placed under the tongue to address different airborne allergens. 

If you want to manage your allergies better, this article is a guide to understanding sublingual immunotherapy as an alternative to allergy shots.

What Is Sublingual Immunotherapy?

Allergy immunotherapy is a treatment that exposes the person to small doses of an allergen. In contrast, sublingual immunotherapy is a new approach, where your doctor will place the medicine under the tongue instead of injecting it under the skin. 

Over time, it can help reduce the severity of symptoms and frequency of allergy attacks and medications. Your healthcare provider can deliver it through sublingual immunotherapy or tablets, effectively addressing asthma symptoms, allergic conjunctivitis, and rhinitis. 

Sublingual sublingual immunotherapy vs. Tablets: What’s the Difference?

Sublingual immunotherapy offers a customized solution to address allergens like trees, grasses, weeds, pets, mold, dust mites, and feathers. While other countries have long used sublingual immunotherapy to treat allergies, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently disapproves of them. It also doesn’t include this treatment in people’s health insurance. Despite this, many people still use off-label sublingual immunotherapy for their conditions. 

On the other hand, SLIT allergy tablets are FDA-approved, and most insurance plans cover them. Experts only prescribe them for short ragweed pollen, grasses, and house dust mites. 

Sublingual sublingual immunotherapy vs. Allergy Shots: What’s the Difference?

Manufacturers produce sublingual sublingual immunotherapy using the same ingredients for allergy skin tests and shots. While the FDA has long approved them, experts don’t allow them for sublingual immunotherapy. This alternative treatment can also be more comfortable and convenient for others because it lets them travel without restrictions.

On the other hand, people have long used allergy shots to help with bee stings, eye irritation, asthma, and hay fever. Experts found that this treatment can be more effective than drops in reducing allergy and asthma symptoms, and lab tests also show that they can help improve your immune system. However, it’s essential to let a doctor administer the allergy shots in their office so they can quickly treat the potential side effects. 

Who Can Take Sublingual Immunotherapy?

SLIT sublingual immunotherapy can be a possible treatment option for patients with allergies, including asthma and allergic rhinitis, as verified by positive skin or blood tests. This type of therapy can also address multiple allergies simultaneously. However, you may not qualify for a SLIT treatment if you take beta blockers or have labile asthma. 

Before you can get a personalized treatment plan to fit your needs, it’s always crucial to consult with your physician. They’ll consider your existing medications, health status, past allergy treatments, and lifestyle to determine if you can qualify for a sublingual immunotherapy treatment. 

What Are the Side Effects of Sublingual Immunotherapy?

When you begin this therapy, your lips, tongue, and throat may initially become mildly swollen or itchy. While these symptoms usually reduce as you continue taking sublingual immunotherapy, we recommend contacting your doctor if you experience any signs.

In contrast, moderate side effects of one in 10,000 doses of a vaccine include lip, mouth, and tongue irritation, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. You may also experience diarrhea, itchy red eyes, nasal symptoms, more severe asthma symptoms, and skin reactions. 

On the other hand, an uncommon response to certain medications is eosinophilic esophagitis. This condition can manifest as an aching sensation in the chest or difficulty when swallowing. 

How to Take Sublingual Immunotherapy Drops

SLIT drops contain glycerin, making them taste sweet. Your doctor can custom-make your sublingual immunotherapy in dropper vials, and you should only take them once a day daily by placing them under the tongue for two minutes before swallowing. Children may require assistance from a caregiver. Never eat or drink for 15 minutes before and after taking them. 

During the first ten weeks of treatment, your doctor will gradually increase the dose. You’ll then complete the maintenance phase, taking the same amount daily. Next, you must schedule regular follow-ups with your allergists to assess the effects and adjust the dosing. 

How to Store Sublingual Immunotherapy 

You should always store your sublingual immunotherapy somewhere convenient, which will remind you to take them regularly. While the drops’ formula can last ten weeks without being refrigerated, refrigeration won’t harm it. However, if you have more than one vial, you should immediately store unused ones in the refrigerator and not freeze them.

How Long Will It Take to Work?

Sublingual immunotherapy can usually improve symptoms after three to four months. Schedule follow-up visits with your allergist after six months to ensure the treatment’s effectiveness.

In contrast, patients typically take sublingual immunotherapy year-round, which may last three to five years. 

How Much Does Sublingual Immunotherapy Cost?

SLIT, sublingual immunotherapy can cost anywhere from a few to thousands of dollars, depending on how many allergens you must treat. It’s also crucial to remember that your insurance policy may or may not cover the cost of the drops and follow-up visits.

Is Sublingual Immunotherapy Safe?

Sublingual immunotherapy is usually safe for children and adults, with mild to moderate possible reactions. You should always bring an EpiPen in case of a severe reaction, and you shouldn’t use the medication with open sores in the mouth.

Can Pregnant Women Take Sublingual Immunotherapy?

Pregnant women shouldn’t start taking allergic drops but can continue taking stable doses if they already take them before getting pregnant. 

Can I Travel with Sublingual Immunotherapy?

You can take sublingual immunotherapy drops on an airplane with a permission letter from your doctor.


Nobody deserves to suffer from allergies because they can negatively affect your quality of life. Fortunately, you can make the symptoms more manageable by consulting your doctor about sublingual immunotherapy. 

If you need sublingual immunotherapy for your allergies, visit Curex! Our online allergy clinic is committed to making custom allergy relief convenient for everyone. Try our services now to stop the allergies at the source!

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