If you find yourself developing a killer headache when riding an elevator
with someone who was a bit generous dabbing on the perfume, you have company.
More than 2 million Americans have fragrance allergies or sensitivities -- and
the number is on the rise.
Although that person's perfume may have been all too obvious a culprit,
there are many hidden sources of fragrances, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD,
medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. Bassett helped
WebMD sniff out...
Oral immunotherapy is a way to get your body used to an allergen -- like pet dander or mold -- so it doesn't trigger an allergic reaction.
Here's how oral immunotherapy can help.
First, your doctor needs to do allergy testing to find out what's triggering your allergies.
Once you know the allergen, your doctor will give you a tiny dose of it as a drop or tablet. You let it sit under your tongue and then swallow it.
Because the dose is so small, your body won't react.
Your doctor will keep giving you doses, at first several times a week and then maybe once a month, slowly increasing the amount of the allergen so your body gets used to it.
It takes several years, but eventually you should have only very mild symptoms when you’re exposed to the allergen. Some people may not have any symptoms anymore.
Oral immunotherapy works the same way that allergy shots do, except it:
Doesn't require shots. This could make a difference for many people, especially children.
Is easier. Usually you can do it at home.
Has lower risks. Allergy drops under the tongue seem to have a lower risk of serious allergic reactions. Common side effects include sore throat, swollen tongue, and itchy lips, tongue, and mouth.
Can I Get Oral Immunotherapy?
If you're interested in oral immunotherapy, talk to your doctor. Some allergists may offer it, although it hasn’t been approved for nasal allergies. It's still being studied, but so far, oral immunotherapy looks like it may work as well as shots.