Drops Instead of Shots

9 years 3 months 2 weeks ago August 22, 2007 Aug 22, 2007 Wednesday, August 22 2007 Wednesday, August 22, 2007 3:16:57 PM CDT in News

For many suffering from allergies, the shots can be as much of an inconvenience as the allergies themselves.

"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," Yekaterina Konalova said. "And that was an explanation for why I was getting sick a lot."

The worst triggers for her 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," Otolaryngic Allergist Dr. William Reisacher said. "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." 

Beyond that ...

"Allergy shots are very effective," Reisacher said. "They have a very long track record and they've been found to be around 90% effective."

But allergy shots are not a reasonable option for everyone. Dr. Reisacher had some patients who found it difficult to come in every week. For patients that were too busy, he 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," Reisacher said.

The "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 hasn't been given through the oral route, they haven't gone through the data to determine the safety," he 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," Allergist Dr. Jonathon Field said. "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."

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 one Columbia Allergy Consultant and they don't use the drops because they are not FDA approved.

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