Taking drops of
The report, published on the Journal of the
The therapy uses the same mixes of allergens contained in allergy shots, which some allergy sufferers receive to prevent seasonal symptoms. But the research shows that drops can be an attractive alternative for those looking to avoid frequent injections.
"As opposed to medications that treat symptoms, [the therapy] has the potential to make patients' immune systems more tolerant, so it's actually changing some of the underlying problems," said Dr. Sandra Lin, the study's senior investigator, who also treats allergy patients at Johns Hopkins.
The cold-like allergy symptoms that come from what is known as allergic rhinitis affect 20 percent to 40 percent of the U.S. population. Prescription and
For those seeking to prevent symptoms, allergy shots give patients gradually increasing dosages of allergens to strengthen their immune systems. The shots typically require a weekly or biweekly visit to a doctor's office for a period of a few years.
The under-the-tongue therapy uses the same theory and allergens but is less invasive.
In eight of 13 studies the Hopkins review examined, researchers found that the drops reduced allergy symptoms by 40 percent or more relative to other treatments, such as inhaled
Some of Lin's patients offer evidence of the therapy's effectiveness.
He has long taken antihistamines, and at around age 30 tried allergy shots until having one scary reaction to a dose. An avid hiker, he is eager to enjoy the outdoors without needing medication — something he was able to do last spring for the first time.
"I'm glad I can enjoy the outdoors and not think about, 'Oh, did I bring pills with me?'" Kapustka said. "So that's kind of nice."
Lin's research is part of a larger review of allergy immunotherapy treatments funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.