All About Allergy Drops

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Manic:  Sneezing my way through the day because I didn’t take the time to deal with my seasonal allergies.

Managed:  Finally got tested and started on allergy drops.  For my testing and treatment, I went to Valley ENT (www.azvent.com).

If you read my post from a few days ago called All About Allergy Skin Testing (http://ow.ly/4knpS), then you know that I endured the skin testing.  I ended the article by promising that I would write more later to tell you what course of treatment I chose. 

I chose allergy drops, also known as sublingual immunotherapy (www.allergychoices.com).   An interesting, but expensive choice.  And what do I think so far?  Keep reading and I’ll give you the allergy drop scoop.

The picture shows a handy little case that my new allergy drops arrived in.  A record-keeping sheet was also included.  The case is small enough to fit neatly in my purse.  I like that.  So what exactly are allergy drops?

Allergy drops are specific to each person.  After my two rounds of skin testing, it was determined that I am allergic to several trees like the Marsh Elder and Mulberry tree, as well as other substances like dust mites.  So a special combination of traces of things that I’m allergic to were carefully combined to create specific allergy drops just for my body. 

These drops are a physician-prescribed antigen that, over time, can build my body’s tolerance to specific allergies.  Gradually, my body should become desensitized to the offending allergens, which will hopefully, result in fewer symptoms and medication needs.  This makes sense to me, so I decided to try the drops.

I take one drop under my tongue three times a day.  The drops are tasteless and simple to administer.  Once I take a drop, I check off one box on my record-keeping chart.  I do this for three months and then return to the doctor to discuss changes and/or improvements with my allergy symptoms. 

So far, so good.  I have currently been taking the drops for three weeks with very little side effects.

At times, my eyes will itch right after I take a drop and I might sneeze once or twice.  And usually this time of year, I’m sneezing throughout the day.  So, three weeks into this, it seems to be working.  Now let me discuss the downside…and that would be the cost.

Allergy drops are not covered by insurance, while allergy shots usually are.  I paid $200 for three months worth of drops.  The goal is that the drops will eventually cure my body of allergies all together, so I will no longer need the drops.  So this means that the $200 I’ve spent so far is an investment that shouldn’t be a permanent expense. 

However, allergy drops can take 3 to 5 years to complete, so cost is an issue to consider.

Before I signed up to put allergy drops in my body, I did a little research and discovered that this course of treatment has been used around the world for more than 60 years.  Numerous studies show the drops to be safe and effective for both children and adults.  Allergy drops are endorsed by the World Health Organization as a viable alternative to injection therapy.  Too bad most insurance companies do not cover the drops.

So what is the difference between the drops and the shots?  The allergens used for allergy drops are the same that are used for the injections.  Both are used to slowly desensitize the body to the offending allergy.  An allergy injection is a shot, while the drops are taken under the tongue. 

So what happens next for me and my allergy drops?  After I complete the first three months of treatment, I will return to the doctor to check on my progress and I may have to endure more skin testing.  Phase 1 of the drops, which is the first three months, is the time that my body adjusts to the treatments and my symptoms may improve.  So far this has been true, making the sting of the cost a little more bearable!

Phase 2 of the treatment (3 months to 2 years) is called the Initial phase.  As my symptoms decrease, my body should take steps to change my allergy tolerance. 

Phase 3 (2 to 5 years) is known as the Symptom Reduction and long-term desensitization stage.  The hope here is that my body will now stay symptom-free all on its own. 

I’ll keep you posted. 

Do you have experience with allergy drops?  Share here in the comments section.  And for all of you allergy sufferers out there, hang in there as we venture into the blooming and allergy-producing Spring season.

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