Oral Immunotherapy Services Houston, Texas
Food allergy is not something to be taken lightly. Every year 100-200 people die from allergic reactions to foods. And there are as many as 30,000 episodes of anaphylaxis each year. Anaphylaxis is a serious, sometimes life-threatening medical condition. It can occur within seconds, minutes or hours of exposure to something you’re allergic to.
If you are allergic to something, your body’s immune system overreacts by releasing chemicals that cause symptoms. Typical symptoms include one or more of the following: an itchy rash, throat or tongue swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, dizziness, and low blood pressure. A severe reaction can even cause death.
Many people with food allergies are placed on restrictive diets. In some cases, these diets cause malnutrition. In children, malnutrition can cause poor growth and delayed development. But allergies to more than a couple of non-related foods are rare. And in many cases, restrictive diets are not the answer to food allergies.
The most reliable tests for food allergy are skin testing and blood testing. But both tests are falsely positive 40-50% of the time. A positive test must be confirmed to be sure you are actually allergic to the food.
What Food Allergies Can Be Treated With OIT?
OIT should work for any food allergy as long as the allergy is IgE based. IgE is a type of antibody normally found in small amounts in the blood. Antibodies are made by the immune system to protect the body from bacteria, viruses, and allergens. Too much IgE can be a sign that the body overreacts, causing an allergic reaction.
We use different OIT treatments for each food. Each one is built on the same basic idea used for preventing allergic reactions to pretty much anything (pollen, food, medications, etc.). You eat a small amount of the food you are allergic to. We watch for a reaction. You then eat a bigger amount. We continue the process until we reach a level where you can eat the food at a normal level without having an allergic reaction.
There are some questions you must ask before trying OIT:
- What are you missing out on or avoiding because of your food allergy? Can you afford not to try OIT?
- Is there potential for significant improvement in your quality of life? Of course, you do not want the cure to be worse than the disease. Anxiety about the procedure, the time involved with the procedure, and even the cost of the procedure should be weighed against the potential to eat the target food without worry.
- Other factors. Does your family have concerns? What do your religious beliefs say? Are there other concerns that play a role in your decision?
We would love to talk with you about whether OIT is right for you or your child. We currently have OIT treatments for peanut, egg, milk, wheat, soy, sesame seed, shrimp, and tree nuts. But just about any food allergy could be treated with our safe, effective OIT treatment.