SLIT for Seasonal Allergies

PITTSBURGH. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Itchy, watery eyes, runny nose and lots of congestion. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know the feeling all too well. Allergy sufferers can take over-the-counter medication or have a series of shots, but, a new therapy may be easier on patients and may eliminate symptoms once and for all.

Over the past year, John Mueller has met big challenges head-on.

Mueller told Ivanhoe, “I climbed two mountains this year. I climbed Mount Whitney and Mount Rainier.”

In the past, this would have been out of the question.

“You know that fresh cut grass smell a lot of people love? I couldn’t stand that smell. It was the smell of don’t go outside,” he explained.

Allergy specialists like Deborah Gentile, MD, Allergist and Immunologist at Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh have a new treatment available for patients with moderate or serious grass allergies. It’s called sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT.

Dr. Gentile told Ivanhoe, “Instead of taking the extract that we traditionally use in allergy shots and having to give you a shot, that extract has been taken and made into oral formulations that dissolve under the tongue.” 

The pills are ingested daily. They take 12 weeks to take full effect. Dr. Gentile says there is a huge added bonus to the immunotherapy, “The studies that have been done so far suggest that three seasons worth of treatment will provide a lifelong cure.”

That’s what John is hoping for, down the road. For now, he’s looking forward to another spring without serious symptoms.

“It really was affecting my quality of life. I wasn’t able to go outside and have that outside time with my boys,” Mueller said.

Another huge mountain John has been able to get over.

Dr. Gentile says there are two forms of the new therapy that can be used in pediatric patients. There is also a formulation for patients with severe fall allergies.  She says the SLIT therapy has been available for about 15 years in Europe, but was only approved a little more than a year ago by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.