The researchers found that those taking sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) had significantly fewer symptoms and needed to take less asthma medication. Not enough of the studies included measurements of lung function for the new study to assess whether SLIT affects lung function significantly.
"SLIT is highly effective in treating pediatric asthma patients, reducing both symptoms and medication use," said Canonica, who's also president of the World Allergy Organization.
Additionally, SLIT appeared to be better tolerated than allergy shots. The chances of a severe reaction are less with oral immunotherapy than with the injected type, according to Dr. Andrew MacGinnitie, an allergist/immunologist at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
"There have been some rare cases of severe reactions with SLIT, but they're much less common," MacGinnitie said. Another big benefit, he added, is that "shots have to be given in the doctor's office and drops are designed to taken at home."
The results of the new study are published in the March issue of the journal Chest.
Other studies have directly compared SLIT to allergy shots and they're both equally effective, according to Canonica. And MacGinnitie said that, "immunotherapy is really the only treatment that gets to the cause of the allergic response."
"This is a potentially new and exciting treatment for kids with asthma," he concluded.
To learn more about allergy immunotherapy, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
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