Written collaboratively by Catherine Wu and Paul Smolen MD
Allergists are beginning to retire those time honored allergy SHOTS, and instead, use under the tongue allergy DROPS to accomplish the same thing; to reduce the amount of asthma, food allergy, runny nose, and eczema a child might suffer.
It’s called (sublingual immunotherapy) or SLIT. SLIT is a new type of allergy therapy and is under intensive study by experts. Not only does it not involve those nasty needles like (subcutaneous immunotherapy) SCIT, but also it seems to possibly be safer and equally effective for younger children.
Traditional allergy shots are usually not given to children under age 5 years, but not SLIT. SLIT may turn out to be a great alternative for children under 5. Sublingual immunotherapy is still in the research phase and not ready for prime time just quite yet. Like all medical therapies, it has some side effects like a taste that some children find unpleasant and some oral itching and gastrointestinal symptoms. Fortunately, life -threatening reactions have not been seen to date. It also requires a long treatment course of years to show effectiveness.
Currently, a pediatric allergist with North Carolina connections, Dr. Wesley Burkes, is making history learning how to make peanut allergic children and adults tolerant of peanuts using SLIT. This is important because currently, reactions to peanuts are the most common allergic reaction to food that kills children in the US. To date, he has had quite a bit of success in helping patients build tolerance. His pioneering work may make it possible sometime soon for children with peanut allergy not to fear restaurants, birthday parties, cafeterias, and maybe even enjoy a candy bar with some peanuts once in a while. Let’s hope.
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Smo Notes: 1. http://news.unchealthcare.org/news
Dr. Paul Smolen has been practicing pediatrics for 32 years as an attending physician at Carolinas Medical Center, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine-Chapel Hill, and a private practitioner.
To learn more about Dr. Smolen, click here.
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