For decades, allergy sufferers in Europe and much of South America have been able to control their allergies with daily under-the-tongue drops instead of shots.
And although the prescription drops are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, their use is spreading across the U.S. too.
Like shots, the active ingredients in the drops are customized to the patients' allergies and use the same allergy antigens for treatment. Alternative Botox and blood pressure medications prescribed for migraine headaches are common examples of off-label use.
Allergy drops work in the same way that shots do. The idea is to inoculate people with small amounts of the substances they are allergic to so that their bodies gradually develop immunity. Because such small amounts of the allergens are introduced with each shot or drop, it can take three to five years to reach a point at which a patient allergic to pollen, for example, will not sneeze in the spring.
Instead of going to a doctor's office for weekly shots treatment, patients can take allergy drops at home. Patients place one or two drops under the tongue first thing in the morning and before going to bed at night.
There is no taste, and the only reported side effect can be some itching under the tongue for the first several weeks of treatment.
The idea of treating allergiesalternately by desensitizing the immune system dates back to the early 1900s. By around 1915, doctors were treating hay fever by inoculating their patients with pollen, some with injections, and others by mouth. Shots and drops were virtually interchangeable until the 1950s, when most practitioners had switched over to shots.
"It's gaining such ground it's hard to completely ignore it," Cox says. "It's just expensive to introduce something in the U.S. market."
For allergy sufferers, an alternative to shots for treatment
posted on 12:10 PM