SmartDrops™ are allergy drops otherwise known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Immunotherapy refers to a kind of treatment that works by altering the body’s immune response to a specific substance. The goal of immunotherapy is to get the immune system to not respond negatively when exposed to things that ordinarily would trigger an allergic response. This is very different from the way over-the-counter medications work. Omedications work. Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines work by masking symptoms. They do not treat the underlying problem that causes us to have allergic responses.
The most common kind of immunotherapy is commonly known as allergy shots. Allergy shots certainly work. SmartDrops™ simply provide a means to a more convenient immunotherapy. These kind of allergy drops are simply taken by mouth once a day at home. In contrast, allergy shots require weekly visits to the doctor’s office and of course require a painful injection.
In addition to avoiding the painful injection and time lost at work, SmartDrops™ are actually safer. Because of the higher risk of dangerous anaphylactic shock, we do not perform allergy shots at our clinics.
Sublingual immunotherapy has been performed for decades safely and there is a great deal of research that shows its effectiveness. In the most recent study published in the respected Cochrane Review (2009), over 2300 patients were treated with sublingual immunotherapy and showed statistical improvements in symptoms and significantly reduced dependence on medication use for both allergy and asthma. There were no reported cases of anaphylaxis. Allergy drops such as SmartDrops™ are endorsed by the World Health Organization and the ARIA (Allergic Rhinitis and it Impact on Asthma) guideline.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that this kind of therapy works and is superior to allergy shots, health insurance coverage of the drops is incomplete. Nevertheless, because the drops require minimal in office visits and subsequently very few co-pays, the overall cost of being on SmartDrops™ compared to shots is less expensive. This is even before considering the cost of time lost at work and other inconveniences related to in-office allergy shots. Furthermore, the typical person is on immunotherapy for no more than 3 to 5 years. At that point, drops are no longer required as the patient hopefully is cured of their allergy symptoms for good.
SmartDrops™ are appropriate for both children and for adults. In many cases, it is far more preferable to put children on drops then shots. Because of the convenience of taking the drops at home, patients tend to be far more compliant with drops compared to shots. Therefore, there is a greater chance of success in treatment with SmartDrops™.
Because SmartDrops™ alter the immune system and it’s response, it takes some time to start building the immunity to the allergens. The effectiveness of the drops may take up to three months for appreciable differences in symptoms to be noticed. Many patients, however, feel better in as little as four weeks.
Finally, if a patient is currently on allergy shots it is quite simple to transition to SmartDrops™. A repeat allergy test would be required. However, the treatment would not change the progress of the immunotherapy.