For decades there were few options for patients concerning treating food allergies other than allergen avoidance and carrying an epinephrine auto- injector for treatment of allergic reactions related to accidental exposure. Recently, there have been breakthroughs in therapies in the form of oral immunotherapy (OIT) that may potentially change one’s sensitivity to food allergen.
OIT is a treatment where patients undergo desensitization to food allergens under physician supervision. Over a period of months, patients may be able to tolerate varying amounts of the food allergen. Historically, this therapy has been more widely available in European countries as well as Japan, but more recently OIT has gained traction in the United States with the first oral immunotherapy protocol for peanut, Palforzia, approved by the FDA earlier this year. Ongoing studies do suggest the theory behind OIT is also applicable for other food allergens.
There are risks with this treatment which does include allergic reactions. Contraindications for this therapy include uncontrolled asthma and an allergic gastrointestinal disease called eosinophilic esophagitis.
Overall, OIT aIlows patients and their families to take better control of their food allergies and may help prevent serious life threatening allergic reactions and increase one’s quality of life. If you or your child has food allergies and you believe one would be a candidate for OIT, please call our clinic to set up an appointment with one of our providers.