Once specific offending allergens have been identified, one course of action is to avoid those particular allergens. This may be simple in the case of allergy to cats or shellfish; however avoidance of dust or multiple springtime pollens may not be possible.
Tips for reducing the exposure to common allergens
- Wear a pollen mask when mowing grass or cleaning the house.
- Change air filters regularly in heating and air-conditioning systems and vacuum cleaners.
- Install an air purifier. Consider an HEPA filter in the bedroom or other rooms where you spend a lot of time.
- Keep windows and doors closed during heavy pollen seasons.
- Wipe down indoor-outdoor animals as they return inside to remove pollen on their fur.
- Use daily saline nasal rinses to cleanse offending allergens from the nose and sinuses.
- Eliminate sources of mold or mildew in the home.
- Try not to allow dander-producing animals (i.e., cats, dogs, etc.) into your home and bedroom. However, if you have a pet, ask your ENT for suggestions to allow you to keep your pet while also enjoying a life free of allergies.
- Change feather pillows, woolen blankets, and woolen clothing to cotton or synthetic materials.
- Enclose mattress, box springs, and pillows in covers.
Several types of over-the-counter or prescription medications may be prescribed to control your allergy symptoms. Our Otolaryngic Allergists are experts at determining the best medication(s) for you. Allergy medications can be very effective in controlling symptoms but do not cure the allergic reaction. Allergy symptoms can only be prevented by changing your immune system’s response to the problem allergen. There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications that may be prescribed by your doctor to relieve your allergy symptoms. These may include antihistamines, decongestants, prescription nasal sprays, leukotriene inhibitors and more.
What is Allergen Immunotherapy?
Allergen immunotherapy is a treatment that eliminates the causes of symptoms by slowly reducing a patient’s sensitivity to allergens, rather than simply treating allergy symptoms. Treatment courses range from three to five years, and results can last a lifetime.
Patients who suffer from severe allergies or cannot avoid allergens are often good candidates for allergen immunotherapy. Physicians may also recommend allergen immunotherapy if a patient:
- Experiences side effects from other allergy medications.
- Suffers from a respiratory condition such as asthma.
- Continues to experience allergies despite avoidance and medication.
- Is allergic to a few, unavoidable substances.
Allergen Immunotherapy at Northwest ENT and Allergy Center
Allergen immunotherapy consists of the development of a serum that is specific to each patient. This serum contains small amounts of the allergens that are disrupting the patient’s respiratory system. Gradually increasing amounts of allergen are administered during the treatment course. This process gradually builds up blocking antibodies that prevent the release of the factors that produce allergy symptoms, thus building a “resistance” to the allergen. This can significantly reduce or even eliminate allergy symptoms; it can also reduce or eliminate the need for allergy medications.
Immunotherapy can be administered via allergy injections in the office, which are initially given once a week and later bi-weekly and monthly, or via sublingual (under the tongue) drops that are taken at home.
Allergy drops can save time and money. Research shows that the use of allergy drops builds up the same response as traditional allergy shots without the need for injections or frequent office visits. Although allergen immunotherapy is not recommended for all patients, it is an effective form of allergy treatment for many patients who suffer from allergic rhinitis. For more information about allergen immunotherapy at Northwest ENT and Allergy Center, call (770) 427-0368 or fill out our contact form. We offer same day appointments at each of our metro Atlanta locations.
What is Sublingual Immunotherapy (Allergy Drops)?
An alternative to SCIT, sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, utilizes drops that are placed under the tongue instead of shots. Similar to traditional allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy effectively treats the root cause of allergies. Most patients begin to notice benefit from treatment within 9-12 months. Total treatment time to achieve maximal benefit is typically three years. This time can vary based on individual circumstances. Side effects are unusual and mild. The most common side effect is irritation under the tongue; this is temporary and typically no treatment is necessary. No serious side effects, such as anaphylaxis, have been reported. An office visit every 3-6 months during treatment is recommended.
Sublingual Immunotherapy at Northwest ENT and Allergy Center
While the symptoms of allergic rhinitis may be reduced by avoiding the triggering allergens and/or allergy medications, the only known cure of allergic rhinitis is immunotherapy. Allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy or SCIT) have proven to be effective and remain standard treatment at Northwest ENT and in other practices throughout the country.
Multiple studies have proven this method to be safe and effective. In fact, SLIT is now more common in Europe than injections. Both methods are based on the same principle: controlled exposure to extracts over time changes the immune response, creating blocking antibodies and reducing or eliminating allergic symptoms.
The physicians at Northwest ENT offer sublingual immunotherapy as an alternative treatment for those patients for whom immunotherapy is recommended but cannot tolerate injections or cannot come to the office regularly for injections. This treatment is also safe and effective in pediatric patients.
For more information about sublingual immunotherapy and allergy drops, please call Northwest ENT and Allergy Center at (770) 427-0368. We offer same-day appointments at all of our Atlanta locations.
Your Otolaryngic Allergist will discuss all available treatment options and recommend the best one for you.