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Allergy drops are a relatively new option for people with allergies in the U.S. Although the concept has been around for decades, and they are widely used in Europe, allergy drops are not approved as a regulated treatment for people with allergies.
In recent years allergy drops have caught on in the U.S. as a non-regulated alternative to allergy shots. Allergy drops have their benefits and their negatives.
In this article I’ll share my allergy drops review along with my experience using them for over 1 year. I’ll also share the side effects of allergy drops as well as recommendations and considerations. Let’s get started!
My Experience With Allergy Drops
A few years ago I walked into an allergist’s office at my university. I was desperate for help and felt horrible.
I honestly didn’t know if I was suffering from allergies, a mental problem, or depression. All I knew is that I felt terrible and was always exhausted.
Looking back, my worst symptom was fatigue. I’d sleep 12 hours and wake up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. In addition, I couldn’t breathe out of my nose (I think my sinus congestion affected my sleep) and I had eczema all over my body.
I walked into the clinic and the allergist looked at me and said “Yep, you have serious allergies”. I was stunned by this matter-of-fact statement. I had gone to so many doctors before and they treated me but never mentioned allergies.
The doctor measured my vitals and interviewed me to better understand what might be bothering me and based on my responses he decided to test me for approximately 20 things.
The test was simple. A plastic mold with dull tips was dipped into specific allergens and pressed against the inside of my arm for a few seconds then removed. After 15 minutes the doctor returned to view and measure my reactions. I reacted to most, though not all of the substances made up of grasses, molds, and dust mites.
The allergist then explained that I had the option to do allergy shots or allergy drops. Because I shared I would be moving soon the allergist decided I was best suited for allergy drops which I could administer myself without having to visit the clinic for shots.
How Are Allergy Drops Made
The doctor and nurses explained the process of allergy drops and it seemed straight forward and simple.
1) The allergy drops would be made up of the same allergens I reacted to. The allergist orders pollen (or whatever you’re allergic to) from a company.
The cool thing about allergy immunotherapy (shots or drops) is that it’s a natural treatment. You start with a small amount of your allergens (dust mites or pollen for example) and slowly increase the dose of shot or drops. It’s natural medicine and if all goes well your body eventually realizes it’s harmless and stop reacting.
2) My allergist considered each of my reactions to determine the amount of allergen he would add to my allergy immunotherapy mixture. The mixture was custom made to address my reactions and included all the allergens in one bottle. For each person it will be unique.
3) The allergist uses a small dark glass bottle and a preservative with the allergens to keep them fresh. The dark bottle reduces sun exposure and helps keep the mixture fresh as well.
4) I was given two or three small bottles at a time and I’d use one per month. The bottles I wasn’t using I’d keep in the refrigerator to help preserve the liquid inside.
How I Took Allergy Drops and How They Tasted
Allergy drops are really simple to use. The preservative used makes the taste sweet so you don’t have to worry about a foul smell or taste. The bottles used for allergy drops are handy (seen in picture).
They use a small nozzle that helps place the drop under the tongue. One push of the nozzle equaled one drop under the tongue.
I was told to apply one drop under the tongue and hold it there without swallowing for 1 minute. After 1 minute I swallowed the drop and went about my day. It was simple and I’d refrain from drinking much water before or after the drop.
I kept the bottle on my sink and used before bed. I didn’t mind the taste and it was small enough to travel with.
I was also given a sheet to fill in the date of drop and my reactions to the drop (if any). You can also read about my experience with allergy shots, or subcutaneous immunotherapy.
Allergy Drops – Build Up Phase
I went through 2 phases during the first year of allergy drops. The first phase was the build up phase. Because allergy drops slowly retrain the immune system doctors will start with a small amount and slowly increase to a stronger dose.
When I began allergy drops my doctor started me off with 3 small bottles. Using the first bottle I’d give myself one drop for the first week, then build to 2 drops the second week, and 3 drops the third week.
Once the first bottle was finished I’d do the same with the second bottle (one drop then two and three). Each bottle was slightly stronger than its predecessor. I did this again with 3 more bottles and I remember noticing the drops were stronger as I took them.
I could feel the difference (I’ll talk more about reactions to allergy drops in the side effects section below).
Allergy Drops – Maintenance Phase
After about 3 months I reached the maintenance phase. In this phase I don’t increase my dose, rather, I continue with the same amount every day. Ideally I’d give myself the same strong dose every day for the next year or two.
Occasionally patients will notice the drops are too strong and the allergist will need to recalibrate the mixture, however, most people can tolerate the strong drops and discover their allergy symptoms to dust mites and pollen are gradually reduced.
I remained on the maintenance phase for 1 year and I did feel some relief.
Side Effects of Allergy Drops And Things To Consider
Because the build-up process is slow and steady most people don’t recognize side effects. Occasionally sensitive individuals will experience mild tingling under the tongue when they apply the drops.
Sometimes I’d get an itchy throat a few minutes after swallowing the drops and more than once I had a slight upset stomach (not painful just rumbling).
As the strength of my allergy drops increased I noticed my eczema would turn red and inflamed for a few hours after taking the drop. I took this as a sign that the drops were working, although it became uncomfortable at times. In every instance, the reactions would go away 1-2 hours after the drop. Any side effects were mild and temporary. You can read about my side-effects with allergy shots too.
Would I Recommend Allergy Drops To People With Allergy
As I would later learn from my 2nd allergist, I was allergic to far more things than the 20 allergens I was tested for originally. I felt the allergy drops did help, but knowing that my drops didn’t contain many other allergens made me realized that I wasn’t receiving the maximum benefit.
Because I was allergic to many things my new allergist recommended allergy shots. His reasoning was that allergy drops are great for a few allergies that can be isolated, however, allergy shots are more effective for a broad array of allergens.
With this said I believe allergy drops are a viable alternative to allergy shots and can be useful. I’ve heard a lot of positive stories about allergy drops and my new allergist provides them.
Of note: Not all allergists offer allergy drops so if you’re interested I’d advise you to call a few offices in your area and ask. In my opinion an office that provides allergy drops is likely on the cutting edge of allergy treatment since it’s a newer option (this should be considered as you find an allergist).
Also, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve or regulate allergy drops. The main reason is there is not enough research to use as a guide for dosing/scheduling.
On the other hand, allergy shots are approved with dosing that can be adapted for drops. Allergy drops are widely used in Europe and they can work, it just depends on your allergist and his/her expertise.
In this article I shared my allergy drops review and my experience over the course of a year. My experience was pretty good. They were easy to administer, tasted sweet, and were great to travel with.
Unfortunately, I had allergy drops that didn’t cover all the substances I was allergic to. While I found some relief with allergy drops, I believe I could have improved more had I been tested for more allergens.
After meeting with my new allergist I decided to try allergy shots – I have not been disappointed. I believe it’s possible to get the same benefits as allergy drops with a more convenient daily routine at home.
I hope this article provides some insight to allergy drops and my review is worthwhile. The best thing I ever did was to be allergy tested.
Once I knew the allergens that were causing my symptoms I could manage them much better. Be sure to check out our blog for allergy product reviews and more of my experiences and opinions. Thanks for reading.