Sublingual immunotherapy for inhalant allergies deserves deeper consideration

Apr 29, 2009

Sublingual immunotherapy for the treatment of allergy symptoms caused by a wide variety of environmental inhalants has been effectively used in Europe. It should be employed to further treatment of allergies in the United States, where allergic symptoms are largely undertreated, according to an invited article in the April 2009 issue of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. A response to the article, published in the same journal issue, expresses cautious optimism, but calls for additional research.

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) involves the administering of an allergen solution under the tongue, which in time reduces the patient's sensitivity to those allergens. The more prevalent alternative is subcutaneous , usually administered through an injection.

The authors of the invited article note that despite allergic symptoms contributing heavily to poor quality of life, high socioeconomic costs, and increased health issues, these syndromes remain underdiagnosed and undertreated. The authors attribute this to a public attitude that trivializes allergic conditions, along with patients' general dissatisfaction with the conventional pharmacy-based ways of treating allergic conditions. They conclude that the extensive implementation of SLIT treatment in Europe has proven to overcome these shortcomings in reaching patients, and the treatment is supported with significant literature documenting its efficacy, along with extensive clinical experience.

In a response to the invited article, AAO-HNSF Board of Directors member John H. Krouse, MD, PhD, recognizes the promising data associated with SLIT treatment, but urges caution until several issues can be addressed. Specifically, Dr. Krouse offers five areas of concern with SLIT treatment: patient selection; pattern of sensitization; dosing, preparation, and delivery; safety; and the financial cost of therapy. He concludes by noting the existence of a gap in allergy management in the United States, and the promise SLIT treatment holds, if carefully evaluated, in reaching these unaddressed segments of the population.

Allergy symptoms appear when the immune system reacts to an allergic substance that enters the body as though it is an unwelcomed invader. The immune system will produce special antibodies capable of recognizing the same allergen if it enters the body at a later time.

When an allergen reenters the body, the immune system rapidly recognizes it, causing a series of reactions. These reactions often involve tissue destruction, blood vessel dilation, and production of many inflammatory substances, including histamine. Histamine produces common symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, nasal and sinus congestion, headaches, sneezing, scratchy throat, hives, and shortness of breath, among others. Other less common symptoms are balance disturbances, skin irritations such as eczema, and even respiratory problems like asthma.

Source: American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery

Explore further: Continued reliance on Windows XP in physician practices may threaten data security

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Latest research on allergies: Specific immunotherapy can help

Jun 11, 2008

The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care has assessed recent evidence on allergies. It found that the once controversial immune therapy against allergy symptoms can definitely help many people with allergies.

Researchers evaluating food allergy treatment

Apr 17, 2008

Researchers at National Jewish Medical and Research Center are conducting trials to evaluate a method to prevent allergic reactions to food. They are feeding peanut- and egg-allergic people increasing doses of an investigational ...

Drinking milk to ease milk allergy?

Oct 30, 2008

Giving children with milk allergies increasingly higher doses of milk over time may ease, and even help them completely overcome, their allergic reactions, according to the results of a study led by the Johns Hopkins Children's ...

Hay fever can send work productivity down the drain

Apr 26, 2007

Employers can blame hay fever for the loss of millions of hours of work productivity this spring. A new study of nearly 600 people with hay fever symptoms, including sneezing, watery eyes and runny and itchy noses, found ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Is Parkinson's an autoimmune disease?

The cause of neuronal death in Parkinson's disease is still unknown, but a new study proposes that neurons may be mistaken for foreign invaders and killed by the person's own immune system, similar to the ...