NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – If you think this has been a particularly bad allergy season, it’s not all in your head.
“This has been a bad spring,” Dr. Rene Leon says.
Patients come to the allergist and clinical immunologist at Texas Regional Asthma and Allergy Center, seeking relief.
“We tend to see those patients who have tried everything. They are kind of at their wits’ end,” he says.
Finding relief was all Luke Gornell could think about.
“I was very congested all the time and it was really hard for me to breathe,” he said.
The high school freshman who plays multiple sports, felt weighed down by his sinus disease.
“If you know what a sinus infection feels like, that’s all the time, his whole life,” his mother Shannon Gornell said.
Allergy shots have been the mainstay of treatment in the United States for decades.
After two surgeries to remove nasal polyps, Luke’s mother turned to a treatment that’s been used in Europe for years: sublingual immunotherapy.
With shots, you’re injected with a little of what you’re allergic to, in order to desensitize the body to those allergens.
With the sublingual immunotherapy drops, the enemy goes under the tongue.
Shots can require weekly visits to your allergist, but you can take allergy drops from home. It’s an attractive option for needle-shy or busy patients
“We chose drops because our lives are incredibly busy,” Shannon says.
An ideal patient is one with single or very few allergies.
“The sublingual [immunotherapy] works well. It does decrease symptoms, [but] most of the studies were done in Europe with patients who had single allergies, not patients who were allergic to many allergens,” Dr. Leon explains.
He says shots may be more effective if you are allergic to many things.
Allergy drops are not FDA approved but allergists can prescribe them “off-label.” That means they’re not covered by insurance and can cost $700 to $800 per year.
After three years of taking daily drops, Luke says he can finally breathe easier. His mom can too.
“It’s dramatic,” she says.
“Doing those drops every single day has been life changing.”