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Allergic Rhinitis
Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)


What is Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)?

Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) is a form of allergy treatment that involves administering allergens under the tongue to desensitize the immune system to specific allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, or mold. It is an alternative to traditional allergy shots (subcutaneous immunotherapy) and is used to manage allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and allergic asthma.

How is treatment administered?

In essence, sublingual Immunotherapy works in the following ways:

  • Administration. Small doses of allergen extracts are placed under the tongue, usually in the form of liquid drops or dissolvable tablets. This is typically done daily at home, following the prescribed dosage and schedule.

  • Absorption. The allergen extracts are absorbed through the thin tissues under the tongue (sublingual mucosa) and interact with immune cells. Over time, this exposure helps the immune system become less reactive to the allergens, reducing the allergic response.

  • Desensitization. SLIT aims to desensitize the immune system to specific allergens. As the treatment progresses, the immune system becomes less sensitive to the allergens, resulting in a reduced allergic response and fewer symptoms when exposed to the allergens in the environment.

Is Sublingual Immunotherapy safe?

Numerous clinical trials and surveys over the last 20 years have shown that SLIT is a comparatively safe and effective approach for addressing allergic rhinitis and asthma attributed to sensitivities to common allergens such as dust mites, grass, ragweed, cat dander, and tree pollens. Moreover, emerging evidence suggests that SLIT could be a viable option for alleviating the discomfort of itchy, reddened eyes during the pollen-heavy hay fever season.

Side effects among both children and adults are usually local and mild, most often occur early in treatment, presenting as itching in the mouth or stomach problems. These can usually be managed by dose adjustments. Very rarely, severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis have been reported using SLIT.

SLIT should only be started under the guidance of a medical professional, preferably an allergist, ENT specialist, or immunologist. The treatment is tailored to the specific allergens affecting the individual, and the appropriate dosages are determined based on the person's medical history and allergic sensitivities.

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