If you live with chronic allergies, you've likely tried a host of solutions, only to find your allergies return over and over again. While medications can mask or diminish your symptoms, they don't provide long-term relief from your allergies. Thankfully, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) has emerged as a promising solution, offering lifelong relief from specific allergies. If you are about to start a SLIT protocol for your allergies, you may be wondering how to make it as effective as possible, and how to increase sublingual absorption.
If you are like most people new to SLIT, you likely have many questions. How does it work? Are there ways to increase the sublingual absorption rate or make it more effective? Well, we're here to help. In this article, we'll dive into the details of SLIT.
Let's start with the basics.
What Is Sublingual Immunotherapy?
When your body mistakes a harmless substance as a threat to your well-being, it can mount an oversized defense in the way of an allergic reaction. A wide range of familiar symptoms can result, from watery eyes and a runny nose to hives and even trouble breathing.
Immunotherapy trains your body, over time, to accept allergens without a reaction. In other words, it treats your allergies at their source, rather than masking their symptoms. This is achieved by exposing your immune system to tiny amounts of triggering allergens.
To stimulate your immune system, without causing a reaction, the dosage increases slowly, over time. As your immune system is exposed this way, it gradually builds tolerance and you start to experience relief from your allergy symptoms.
There are several types of immunotherapy used to treat allergies, including allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy. While the former involves a series of injections, taken under the supervision of a doctor, sublingual immunotherapy includes allergy tablets or drops, which can be taken under the tongue, at home.
SLIT is most commonly used to help environmental and seasonal allergies, but allergy research is ever-evolving. Be sure to check with a trusted allergist to keep up with the latest information.
How Does Sublingual Immunotherapy Work?
Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and decongestants work by masking or dulling the symptoms of an allergic reaction. So, these pills and sprays never really go after the source. On the other hand, sublingual immunotherapy works by, over time, helping to prevent a reaction from happening in the first place.
SLIT works through the administration of regular doses of the allergens that cause your immune system to overreact. Taken in tiny amounts, this treatment allows your body to gradually recognize and accept the allergens, without launching an immune system response.
Sublingual medication uses an oral route for administration and is taken under the tongue, where the immunotherapy is quickly absorbed. This is known as sublingual absorption. Depending on your protocol, you may be required to administer the SLIT a few times a week, or even daily. This will allow your body to slowly promote resistance to your allergies.
Over time, the oral dose of allergen in your tablets or drops will gradually increase. The incremental change helps to slowly desensitize your immune system, so you can one day live without the fear and inconvenience of allergic reactions.
Types of Sublingual Immunotherapy
Currently, there are two types of SLIT—allergy tablets and allergy drops. Once prescribed by a doctor, both can be taken at home, without the need for injections or frequent in-person doctor visits.
While allergy shots, another type of immunotherapy, require regular trips to the doctor's office for the administration of needles, both forms of SLIT offer the convenience of home administration. In addition, SLIT has been shown to have fewer side effects than allergy injections. Between the time savings and the ability to avoid injections, it is no wonder that SLIT is a popular alternative to allergy shots.
As for their differences, allergy tablets and drops each have their benefits and the allergies to which they are best suited. If you are curious about the sublingual absorption rate of each, or how to increase sublingual absorption, be sure to consider each of these options closely.
Allergy tablets, or sublingual tablets, are placed under the tongue for one to two minutes. They can then be swallowed as they dissolve. Typically, tablets are taken three or more times each week, depending on your protocol. For long-lasting results, you may need to take allergy tablets for up to three to five years.
While allergy tablets are effective, they can only treat one allergy at a time.
Similar to tablets, allergy drops are taken under the tongue, at home, on a regular basis. While tablets can only treat one allergy at once, allergy drops can treat several at the same time, similar to allergy shots.
Both allergy tablets and allergy drops have been proven effective in treating allergic rhinitis — or a stuffy nose — a common symptom of allergies. As for which of the two forms of SLIT is best for you, you and your allergist will need to decide together, based on your specific allergies.
What Allergies Can Immunotherapy Treat?
Immunotherapy has been proven to treat a wide range of allergies. While allergy shots treat the widest number of allergens, allergy tablets and drops are a highly effective, at-home choice for a wide range of allergens as well. They can be effective against ragweed, mold, and other allergens.
Among the allergies that SLIT (allergy drops and tablets) can treat include:
- pet dander
- seasonal pollens (ragweed, grass, trees, etc)
- dust mites
Keep in mind that while allergy drops can combine allergens into a single drop, specific to your allergens, allergy tablets treat a single allergen at a time. As you explore which form of SLIT will work best for you, remember you'll want to explore how to increase sublingual absorption, in order to make the most of your treatment plan.
What Are The Benefits of Sublingual Immunotherapy?
Naturally, convenience is one of the biggest benefits of any therapy that can be administered at home. When you use SLIT, either as allergy drops or allergy tablets, you can self-administer in the comfort of your home, without having to travel to a doctor's office for regular injections.
Another benefit of SLIT is the way it is taken. Since allergy drops and tablets are taken via a sublingual route, SLIT is taken under the tongue. This makes SLIT easy to use, with a small margin for error. For those who don't love needles or worry about the long-term stress of repeated injections, an at-home, pain-free treatment might be just what the doctor ordered.
Just as allergy shots are personalized for your use, SLIT is also specific to your allergies. Similar to allergy shots, allergy drops are also able to cover multiple allergens in a single dose.
SLIT also offers easier administration of allergy prevention for children. Not only do you not have to bring them in for weekly or monthly appointments, but you can also spare them the stress and pain of frequent shots.
Finally, it's important to know that SLIT is a trusted therapy. The FDA has approved sublingual immunotherapy for safe use at home. This offers peace of mind that you can effectively treat your allergies without the need for weekly visits to your physician's office.
What Can Affect the Effectiveness of Sublingual Immunotherapy?
First, the most important element of effectiveness comes down to getting a proper diagnosis. Be sure to book a comprehensive allergy assessment with a trusted provider. Wyndly offers this service through an at-home allergy test that can pinpoint which allergies to treat.
Second, it is vital to take your allergy tablets or allergy drops, as prescribed. Follow the directions given to you by your provider since patient compliance with the prescribed plan will help make it the most effective. If you are on a four-times-a-week protocol and it changes to become either more or less frequent, it is important to keep pace with the protocol to realize its benefits.
When you are ready to administer your SLIT, place the allergy tablets or drops under your tongue, then wait two to three minutes before swallowing. The primary things that can impact the effectiveness of SLIT involve what you put in your mouth just before and after administration.
When you are wondering how to increase sublingual immunotherapy, it comes down to avoiding food and liquids, brushing your teeth, smoking, or chewing tobacco on either side of taking your allergy drops or tablets.
To learn more about the science behind sublingual immunotherapy and how it can help you achieve freedom from allergies, see Wyndly's information on sublingual immunotherapy.
Best Ways to Increase Absorption
If you're wondering how to increase sublingual absorption, to make the most of your allergy tablets or allergy drops, you are not alone. It is important to maximize the benefit of your SLIT treatment plan, so your immune system is exposed to specific allergens in a controlled, increasing pattern.
So, how do you increase your sublingual absorption rate? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- drink plenty of water, 10-15 minutes ahead of taking your allergy tablets or drops
- avoid eating 5 minutes ahead of taking your tablets or drops
- use a mirror to make sure tablets or drops are properly placed under your tongue
- if you can, avoid swallowing for 2-3 minutes, allowing absorption to take place
- avoid eating or brushing your teeth for another 30-45 minutes
- avoid smoking or chewing tobacco 2 hours before and after your SLIT therapy to avoid constricting your blood vessels
By drinking water, ahead of time, you will have plenty of saliva at the ready, to aid your sublingual absorption rate. By avoiding swallowing right away, especially for allergy tablets, you'll allow more of the product to be absorbed into your bloodstream through your mouth and cheek.
While these steps may sound like minor adjustments, they can greatly help the efficacy of your SLIT treatment, allowing you to make the most of your protocol and your personalized treatment plan.
How to Get Started With Sublingual Immunotherapy
If you're ready to explore the benefits of SLIT in pursuit of lifelong allergy relief, the first step is to find an experienced team of allergy specialists to help properly assess your allergies and determine your unique treatment protocol.
At Wyndly, our specialized team of allergy doctors is ready to build your personalized, at-home treatment plan, to help provide lifelong relief from your allergies.
To get started, you'll simply take an at-home allergy test or submit your existing allergy test results to our team of doctors. This simple test will check for allergies to indoor and outdoor environmental allergens, such as pet dander, pollen, mold, and dust mites.
With your test results in hand, our physicians will review your results and develop a personalized sublingual immunotherapy plan to help desensitize your immune system from triggering allergens.
From here, your allergy relief is in your hands. Your physician-prescribed medications will be shipped to your door. Even better, your Wyndly doctor will work with you until you have allergy relief. If you ever have questions about your prescriptions or protocol, simply text, call, or visit our website. The Wyndly team is ready to support you, every step of the way.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If you're one of the 45 million Americans who suffer from the familiar symptoms of allergies, you know how they can impact daily life. Whether your allergies bring itchy eyes, a runny nose, swollen glands, or other symptoms, you deserve to find long-term allergy relief.
Find out if sublingual immunology can help bring you convenient, lifelong relief from your allergies. At Wyndly, we're proud to offer a proven at-home system that delivers a personalized treatment plan for long-term allergy relief. To get started, simply take our online allergy assessment.