Pills for allergy to the tongue have quickly become a way to treat hay fever and dust mite allergies, according to a new study.
Allergy shots have been available for over 100 years while sublingual or under-the-tongue allergy pills have only been approved for use in the United States in 2014.
But of 268 US allergists surveyed last year, 73% reported prescribing allergy tablets under the tongue, according to allergist and lead author Dr. Anita Sivam of Memphis, Tennesee.
"Five years ago, allergy pills had not been approved by the FDA and were not being prescribed for people with allergies in the United States," Sivam said in a statement from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
"Allergists were prescribing doses of allergy because they were, and continue to be, a proven effective treatment. Once the allergy tablets were approved in 2014, allergists began to prescribe them to their patients," she said.
Both approaches reduce the sensitivity of the immune system to an allergen, thus facilitating allergy symptoms. This is called immunotherapy.
The tablets are available to treat allergic reactions to pollen from northern grasses, Timothy grass pollen, mites and mites. Northern grass pollens and Timothy grass pollen tablets are approved for patients aged 5 years or older, while the other two are approved for patients 18 years of age or older.
One way in which pills differ from allergy shots is that after the first dose of pills is given in an allergist's office, they can be taken at home. You put the tablets under your tongue and they dissolve.
Another major difference: "Medications are formulated by your allergist to treat your allergy or allergy specific," said study co-author Dr. Mike Tankersley. He is the vice chair of the ACAAI's immunotherapy and diagnostic committee, which developed the study.
The tablets target only one allergy. "Our study found that it was the main barrier for allergists in prescription pills," said Tankersley. If a patient has more than one allergy and can travel regularly to receive allergy shots, an allergist may recommend dosages instead of tablets, he explained.
The study was published on April 2 Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.