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Needle-free treatment effective for specific allergies

A newer allergy treatment, called sublingual immunotherapy, may help reduce symptoms for specific allergens like dust mites and some grasses.

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Allen Mask
, M.D., Health Team physician
RALEIGH, N.C. — For Angelo Albán and his three children, seasonal allergy symptoms have forced them all to make daily lifestyle changes.

“On very, very, very bad days, it's very hard to go outside,” Albán said. “I've called out of work. You can't breathe properly, or you can't see properly. Driving becomes an issue.”

Options for relief have been limited and with mixed results.

Albán takes several medications, he said.

“I use prescription eye drops and prescription nose sprays, and I also take regular pills that I have to change periodically because they stop working after a while,” he said.

His doctor recommended allergy shots.

“I personally have a bit of a fear of needles," Albán said. "Shots for me are not something I would be OK with.”

A newer allergy treatment, called sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, may help reduce symptoms for specific allergens.

For many, the best part is it doesn’t include needles.

“Sublingual immunotherapy is pretty easy to use,” said Consumer Reports health editor Patricia Calvo. “Once you have a consultation with your doctor, all it really takes is putting a tablet under your tongue for only a few minutes a day.”

There four Food and Drug Administration-approved SLIT treatments on the market.

  • Odactra is approved for house dust mite allergies.
  • Oralair is intended for five different grass pollens.
  • Grastek is for Timothy grass allergies.
  • Ragwitek for ragweed.

Consumer Reports said that the five-grass, Timothy grass and ragweed tablets are to be started about four months before the grass season begins and continued throughout the season.

Depending on the specific SLIT treatment, children may start at age 5.

The Albáns said they are seriously considering those new options.

“It's also not shots, which is big,” Albán said.


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