Allergy Drops

Safe, Convenient, and Effective At-Home Allergy Treatment

Anyone who struggles with allergies knows how difficult it can be to function during peak allergy seasons. Whether your problem is seasonal or perennial allergies, Dr. Ryan Sullivan and the team at Skin & Allergy Center can get you started with an effective, at-home treatment designed to help control your own unique allergy symptoms with allergy drops.

What are allergy drops?

Allergy drops, or sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), is a non-invasive allergy treatment administered via liquid drops placed beneath the tongue. The drops work by mixing the specific allergens you are allergic to and using them to build immunity or tolerance to your allergic triggers. The drops help to achieve similar benefits to those of allergy shots.

Benefits of allergy drops:

  • Treatments are performed at home; miss less time from work and school.
  • Painless and injection-free
  • Safe and effective for children and adults
  • Great for seasonal and perennial (all year long) allergies
  • Reduces the need for other allergy medications
  • Affordable

Who should consider allergy drops?

Before recommending any form of allergy treatment, our Tennessee allergy team will meet with you or your child for a personalized consultation. Allergy testing is often necessary to determine the specific cause of your allergic reactions, as well as which allergy treatment is best for your unique case.

Allergy drops are a safe and convenient treatment that can be performed from the comfort of your own home—with only 1-2 office visits per year, you will no longer need to take time off work or school on a regular basis. This form of allergy treatment is completely safe for anyone from children as young as 4 years old to seniors. Dr. Sullivan also recommends allergy drops as a great option for his allergy patients with a fear of needles, or who have not been able to tolerate allergy shots.

We also recommend allergy drops to our patients who struggle with seasonal allergies, such as pollen. Typically, when dealing with seasonal allergies we will begin allergy drop treatments several weeks before the symptoms normally start.

Are there any side effects to using allergy drops?

Possible side effects to allergy drops include a mild itching or burning of the lip or mouth. This will typically fade quickly and should not cause any alarm. Less common side effects may include a runny nose or upset stomach. More severe allergic reactions are extremely rare and can be avoided by consulting with a professional allergy specialist, such as Skin & Allergy Center’s own Dr. Ryan Sullivan and Dr. Susan Higgins, before starting treatment. Our allergy specialists are highly trained and able to personalize each patient’s individual allergy treatments to meet his or her unique needs and conditions.

Getting started with allergy drops

Take control of your allergies and contact Skin & Allergy Center to discuss your own allergy treatment with allergy drops. All of our allergy drop treatments begin with an in-office visit for personalized allergy testing and a consultation with one of our Tennessee allergy specialists. Allergy drop treatments are performed at-home, allowing you to live comfortably and enjoy the things you love doing without being bothered by allergies or having to worry about regular office visits.

Skin & Allergy Center has three convenient locations in Columbia, Murfreesboro, and Spring Hill, Tennessee. Call today to schedule a personalized consultation with Dr. Sullivan or Dr. Higgins.

Living with Asthma

Asthma’s primary cause is inflamed airways in the lungs. This inflammation makes the airways smaller, which makes it more difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs.

While asthma is most commonly thought of as a “childhood disease,” it is often diagnosed as a new condition in older people. Whether it begins with a nighttime cough or difficulty breathing, asthma can be a very frightening disease.

Signs that you might have asthma include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness

Many seniors diagnosed with asthma have other health conditions to take into consideration, including drug interaction and disease interaction. It can be more challenging to treat adult-onset asthma, but your allergist/immunologist will work with you to provide the best treatment possible.

Treatment

Long-term control medications prevent symptoms and are taken daily. They include:

  • Inhaled Corticosteroids: The most consistently effective long-term control medication
  • Long-Acting Bronchodilators (LABAs): These are used in combination with inhaled corticosteroids
  • Cromolyn and theophylline: Used as alternative controller medications (not preferred)
  • Leukotriene modifiers: Used as alternative controller medications
  • Immunomodulators: Omalizumab modifies the allergic immune response

Quick-relief medications include:

  • Short-Acting Beta Agonists (SABAs) relax airway muscles to give prompt relief of symptoms.

Drugs that can trigger asthma

Beta-blockers may be used for problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and migraine headache. They may also be used in an eye drop form for treating the eye disease glaucoma. Ideally, a person with asthma would avoid all beta blockers, but these types of drugs may be quite important for your health and may not substantially worsen your asthma. Your physician may conduct a trial using a “specific” beta-blocker. Remember that even beta-blockers in eye drops may make asthma worse, so be sure to tell your ophthalmologist if you have asthma.

Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include some common over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Approximately 10-20 percent of people with asthma may notice that one or more of these drugs trigger their asthma. These asthma attacks may be severe and even fatal, so patients with known aspirin sensitivity must be very careful to avoid these drugs. Medications that usually don’t cause increased asthma in aspirin-sensitive patients include acetaminophen (low to moderate dose), propoxyphene and prescribed narcotics such as codeine.

ACE Inhibitors, which may be used for hypertension or heart disease, include lisinopril and enalopril. Although they usually don’t cause asthma, approximately 10 percent of patients who receive one of these drugs develop a cough. This cough may be confused with asthma in some patients and possibly trigger increased wheezing in others.

The bottom line in avoiding medication-induced asthma is to talk with your physician about what medications are best for you.

Source: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

Living with Allergies

When people hear the word “allergies,” many think of hay fever or peanuts; however, there are several different types of allergies, and the reactions are different for each. Treatments will also vary. Learn more about allergy types and treatments.


Allergy types and reactions

Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose. Symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes and ears
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Watery eyes

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (or hay fever) is caused by allergens like mold and pollen. Some people have symptoms of rhinitis no matter what the season. This is called perennial allergic rhinitis. It can be caused by allergens such as animal dander, indoor mold, dust mites and cockroaches.

Sinusitis is a painful, long-lasting inflammation of the sinuses. Sinuses are the hollow cavities behind the cheek bones, around the eyes and behind the nose. Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Congestion
  • Green or gray nasal discharge
  • Postnasal drip
  • Pressure in the face
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • A cough that won’t go away

Sinusitis is common in the winter. It may last for months or years if it is not properly treated. Colds are the most common cause of acute sinusitis, but people with allergies are much more likely to develop sinusitis than people who do not have allergies.

Skin allergies can lead to red, bumpy, scaly, itchy or swollen skin. The most common allergic skin conditions are:

  • Eczema
  • Hives and angioedema
  • Allergic contact dermatitis

Symptoms of a skin allergy include:

  • A strange rash
  • Red, scaly or itchy skin
  • A swelling of the deeper layers of the skin, such as the eyelids, mouth or genitals
  • Dry, flaking skin
  • Inflamed or blistered skin

Skin allergies are painful and unpleasant, but there are things you can do to treat and prevent an allergic skin reaction.

Food allergies happen when a person’s immune system overreacts to the proteins in a certain food. Twelve million people in the United States have food allergies.

Eight kinds of food cause most food allergies:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Any nuts from trees, such as almonds, cashews, chestnuts, pecans, walnuts, etc.

Signs of a food allergy include:

  • A rash, or red, itchy skin
  • Stuffy or itchy nose, sneezing, or itchy and teary eyes
  • Vomiting, stomach cramps or diarrhea
  • Angioedema or swelling

Some people with food allergies can have a serious reaction called anaphylaxis. Signs of this kind of reaction include:

  • Hoarseness, throat tightness or a lump in the throat
  • Wheezing, chest tightness or trouble breathing
  • Tingling in the hands or feet, lips, or scalp

Insect sting allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to the insect’s venom. Some people may have trouble breathing or itch and have hives all over their body after being stung.

Most allergic insect sting reactions are caused by five kinds of insects:

  • Yellow jackets
  • Honeybees
  • Paper wasps
  • Hornets
  • Fire ants

For people who are very allergic to an insect’s venom, a sting may cause a dangerous allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Signs of anaphylaxis include:

  • Itching and hives over a large part of the body
  • Swollen throat or tongue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

If you are allergic to insect stings, you can reduce your risk of having an allergic reaction by staying indoors during insect season and always carrying autoinjectable epinephrine.

Source: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology


Treatment options

You don’t have to suffer through allergy season without relief. Here are some short-term and long-term options if you have allergies.

Medication. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis and urticaria (hives) are common problems for older adults and often require the use of antihistamines. Antihistamines are divided into two classes: first generation and second generation.

First-generation antihistamines, while very effective at controlling symptoms, are often associated with symptoms in older adults such as anxiety, confusion, sedation, blurred vision, reduced mental alertness, urinary retention and constipation. These side effects are even more common if you are being treated with certain antidepressant medications. The second generation antihistamines cause fewer side effects.

If you have allergies that require an antihistamine, discuss the use of second-generation antihistamines in place of a first-generation antihistamine with your physician. Physician and allergist-prescribed antihistamines currently in use are generally from the second- or third-generation drugs that have an extremely favorable safety profile for users.

Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is an effective vaccination program that increases immunity to substances called allergens that trigger allergy symptoms. Allergen immunotherapy involves administering gradually increasing amounts of an allergen to a patient over several months. The injections are first given on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and when the maintenance level is reached, eventually on a monthly basis. This process reduces symptoms that are otherwise triggered by allergen exposure. This form is of treatment is the closest thing to a “cure” for allergic symptoms.

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), also known as allergy drops, is currently being investigated in clinical research settings for use in the United States. SLIT involves a dosing schedule of increasing amounts of allergen, much like the shots. But instead of shots, the allergens are administered in a liquid or tablet form under the tongue.

For food allergies, the best therapy is vigilance. Allergists can diagnose food allergy by skin tests, blood tests and food challenges. Once food allergy has been diagnosed, an allergist will provide education about food avoidance, use of emergency measures in case of exposure and the likelihood of outgrowing the food allergy. They will also provide ongoing care and guidance in dealing with food allergies over time.

When to see an allergist:

  • For any allergic reaction that has an unclear cause.
  • To confirm a suspected allergy.
  • If you have limited your diet based on possible allergy to foods or additives.
  • For advice on the best treatment and avoidance measures for food allergy.
  • For advice on ways to potentially prevent food allergy.

Source: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology