When it comes to treating allergies, there are many options to help you feel better. Different treatments will be recommended by your allergist based on your symptoms and severity. When one thinks of “allergy shots”, they are talking about SCIT or subcutaneous immunotherapy. This method includes getting shots in 2 phases to all the allergens that have been reported as positive. During the beginning, you will be building up in dosing to reach the target desired dose for maintenance. During this time frame, people often come in for shots at least once a week. During the maintenance period, individuals will transition to larger time intervals between shots. Since this method is changing how your body responds to allergens, many patients can stop daily medications and have the luxury of being controlled with a treatment that occurs once a month! Patients can feel a subjective change even just a few months in, with increasing improvement noted well into maintenance phase. This treat has been available for over 50 years and is well covered by insurance.
SLIT is sublingual immunotherapy where the treatment is placed under your tongue. This is a type of treatment that is taken daily at home for a specific allergen. You must remember to take this every day as allergic reactions can occur and you may need to repeat dosing if days are missed. While there are FDA approved options for sublingual immunotherapy, these options are for one allergen at a time. The FDA has approved this treatment for grass allergy, ragweed allergy, dust mite allergy, and cat allergy. This therapy is not a good choice if a person has multiple allergies. This therapy has been shown to be less effective overall than allergy shots. It can also be associated with bad reaction like swelling of the mouth and tongue and an infiltration of allergy cells in the esophagus known as eosinophilic esophagitis. There are practitioners who will formulate this therapy for patients, but there is no standards on how to formulate it and it is typically not covered by insurance.
The discussion about which option makes sense for someone should be discussed with their allergist.