Allergies aren’t specific to older kids—even infants and toddlers can have significant allergies that manifest as a runny or stuffed-up nose, skin rash (hives or eczema), asthma, or recurring ear infections.
If your child has allergies, your doctor may recommend starting with medication such as antihistamines and decongestants. If your child’s allergies are short-lived, this may be enough to tide them through the dregs of allergy season. If your child’s allergies are longer in duration (occurring over more than four months of the year) and /or are particularly severe, you may need a more lasting solution such as allergy immunotherapy. Otherwise, your child will likely keep cycling through the same old symptoms again and again. Remember that pills and other medications treat only the symptoms, but allergy immunotherapy treats the underlying allergic disease.
If you and your doctor decide that allergy immunotherapy is the best course for you, you may hit up against an obstacle: allergy shots (a common form of immunotherapy) are not recommended for children under age 7. If your child is not yet old enough for shots, though, don’t give up. Allergy drops are another form of immunotherapy that work like shots but are both safer and easier to administer. Drops have been shown to be safe for children under age 5. Because of drops’ higher safety profile, they can be taken at home (instead of at the doctor’s office) for greater convenience.
The drops are dosed sublingually (under the tongue) where they absorb into the bloodstream through special oral cells.
If you are considering allergy drops, here are a few more advantages:
1. Avoid the negative side effects of synthetic medications. Medications like antihistamines and oral corticosteroids commonly prescribed for allergies may work well for temporary management of symptoms, but they all have some negative side effects associated with them. Allergy drops, however, are made of all-natural allergenic extracts (the same things you breathe in daily in the great outdoors), mixed into a saline-based liquid. Allergy drops can be far gentler and kinder on developing young bodies.
2. Stop the allergy-medicine cycle. Pills, inhalers, and nasal sprays can all help take the edge off of allergy symptoms, but they don’t do anything to change the allergy itself. Only immunotherapy has been shown to do that. The problem with “band-aid” medication solutions is that once you stop the meds, the symptoms return. Immunotherapy (through either shots or drops) can address the underlying allergy at its source, helping the body develop an “immunity” to allergens so that it will stop overreacting to them.
3. For food-related allergy. Allergy shots have not been proven effective in reducing food allergies, but allergy drops have been shown to diminish them. Studies at Duke University showed that sublingual allergy drops were able to desensitize kids to peanut allergens that once elicited extreme reactions. And the successes don’t stop with peanuts. Allergy drops have shown strong success in helping patients overcome dozens of different food allergies.
Speak to your doctor or reach out to the Family Allergy Clinic to see if allergy immunotherapy is an appropriate treatment option for your child.