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Allergy tongue treatment backed

Mon May 4th, 2009

Under-the-tongue allergy treatments are effective and should be used more widely, say experts.

Allergy symptoms are often under-treated, according to experts from the University of California San Francisco, USA. Dr Ivor Emanuel and his team say that allergies are very common, and include hay fever (rhinitis), conjunctivitis, eczema and hives, asthma, and food allergies.

Research has shown that symptoms are both under-diagnosed and under-treated, possibly because allergies are "trivialised" by doctors and patients, but also because patients often don't use their medication enough. Some patients are also unhappy with taking tablets often, or experience unpleasant side-effects.

The experts say that newer treatments which target the immune system (immunotherapy), but are placed under the tongue rather than injected, are widely used in Europe, and are safe, well-tolerated, and convenient. Over time this treatment reduces the patient's sensitivity to those allergy triggers.

This approach could "fill the gap" left by other approaches, they write in the journal Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery.

In reply, Dr John Krouse of Wayne University, Detroit, USA, says that these treatments are already being used increasingly often in Europe and the United States, but the evidence to support them may be exaggerated.

He says there are still unanswered questions such as which patients would benefit most, what happens when a patient has been using this approach for a long time, what is the best dose and frequency, how safe it is, and how cost-effective it is.

"Additional research is necessary to adequately address these important issues," he says.

Emanuel, I. E., Parker, M. J. and Traub, O. Undertreatment of allergy: Exploring the utility of sublingual immunotherapy. Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Vol. 140, May 2009, pp. 615-21.

Krouse, J. H. Sublingual immunotherapy for inhalant allergy: Cautious optimism. Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Vol. 140, May 2009, pp. 622-24.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Dermatology | North America | Europe

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