Better Options for Allergies
"I didn't know that I had allergies, it's just about a year ago that I actually found out cause I've gone through the allergy testing. And that was an explanation for why I was getting sick a lot," said allergy sufferer Yekaterina Konalova.
The worst triggers for Konalova are grass and dust. So what could she do for relief?
"The main first line treatments that are available are medications, which everybody knows a lot about. Antihistamines and nasal sprays. And also avoidance strategies; finding out what it is you're allergic to, and then taking meaningful steps to try to, decrease your exposure to that in the environment," explained Dr. William Reisacher. "Allergy shots are very effective. They have a very long track record and they've been found to be around 90% effective."
But not a reasonable option for everyone.
"It was a big commitment for five years to come every week to the office. And it's kind of hard for me, I work as an independent contractor, I have a busy schedule." Dr. Reisacher offered an alternative.
"The allergy serum which had been given previously through a subcutaneous injection, is now being given, through, a sublingual, or under the tongue route," he explained.
The so called 'allergy drops' allow patients to skip the needles and treat themselves daily at home. But their use is experimental because the drops are not FDA approved.
"So the FDA has approved these extracts to be used in an injection, but because it, it hasn't been given through the oral route, they haven't gone through the data to determine the safety," Dr. Reisacher said.
So far the research has shown them to be safe and effective. But larger studies are needed and doctors are still determining the appropriate dosages. Not everyone is convinced this will be the end to allergy shots.
"It hasn't been researched in multiple allergic patients. Most of the patients we see have more than one allergy, maybe indoor and outdoor. And there's no data to say it works for multiple. It's usually just a single, focused allergy," said allergist Dr. Jonathan Field.
And there's skepticism about patient compliance. Konolova has only been using the drops for a few months.
"Right now I'm just waiting for the drugs to accumulate in the body and hopefully, in a few months I'll start seeing the effects of them," she said.
KOMU contacted a Columbia allergy consultant and they don't use the drops because they are not FDA approved at this time.