Undertreatment of allergy: exploring the utility of sublingual immunotherapy

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 May;140(5):615-21. doi: 10.1016/j.otohns.2009.01.023.


Allergic syndromes are highly prevalent and are comprised of a wide variety of clinical problems, including rhinitis, conjunctivitis, atopic dermatitis and urticaria, asthma, and food allergies. Numerous studies have shown that allergic syndromes are both underdiagnosed and undertreated. This is related to many factors, including trivialization of allergic conditions by physicians and patients, failure to adhere to diagnostic and treatment guidelines, and dissatisfaction with conventional pharmacologic treatments. Immunotherapy involves the administration of allergen extracts in an attempt to induce immunologic tolerance and has been used for the treatment of allergic syndromes and the prevention of long-term complications. Conventional subcutaneous immunotherapy is effective but is also associated with a risk of serious adverse events, requires administration by a trained health care professional, and is contraindicated in certain populations. By contrast, sublingual immunotherapy has been used extensively in Europe and possesses most of the benefits of subcutaneous immunotherapy along with increased safety, tolerability, and convenience. This narrative review explores data from selected clinical studies and concludes that sublingual immunotherapy may be well suited to fill the gap posed by the undertreatment of allergic syndromes in the United States.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Sublingual
  • Allergens / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*


  • Allergens