With this allergy season shaping up to be one of the worst in the nation’s history, patients are seeking relief in droves.
For some, this means weekly shots at a doctor’s office — usually for several years — to help alleviate sensitivities. This regimen can be time-consuming, however, and isn’t ideal for people who fear needles.
Dr. Michael Gatto, a Palm Springs otolaryngologist whose practice focuses on allergies, offers oral allergy drops, known as sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, as an alternative to injections. The drops are self-administered at home — just a few drops daily under the tongue — saving patients time and increasing compliance.
“The efficacy is just as good as shots,” he says.
Another upside is the convenience: The drops don’t need refrigeration and are portable, perfect for snowbirds on the move.
Potential patients must complete full testing to receive the therapy. They are then prescribed customized serum formulated on-site in Palm Springs to help desensitize them to their particular triggers.
During the “build-up phase” of about four months, patients go through an initial “kit” of eight bottles of glycerin-based drops that decrease in dilution, moving to a maintenance dose for up to two years for full effectiveness.
Gatto — who has been on the drops himself for 18 months — began offering the treatment three years ago and sees about 250 patients for SLIT.
It is not currently covered by many insurance plans and costs about $75 a month.