Increasing numbers of people have allergies to tree nuts and other foods. Every day, about 500 people in the United States visit an emergency room for a life-threatening reaction to some kind of food. For example, almost 1 in 6 people are allergic to peanuts. Since traces of peanuts are in many foods, it can be a problem to avoid them.
Oral Immunotherapy Treatment, known as OIT, is an effective treatment for a wide variety of food allergies. Let’s take a look at OIT treatment for tree nut allergies.
What is Oral Immunotherapy Treatment (OIT)?
First, let’s explain what Oral Immunotherapy Treatment (OIT) is.
Oral Immunotherapy is fundamentally a graded food challenge supplemented over time by subthreshold doses to achieve a desensitized state dependent on persistent ingestion of a food allergen. This is a very exciting treatment for our food allergic population. We hope this will help our community reduce allergic reactions leading to ER visits and hospitalizations. In addition, it will help parents manage their child’s food allergy safely and reduce fear in both parent and child of accidental exposure.
At the present time, there is no adequate marker to differentiate cure (i.e. sustained unresponsiveness) versus successful treatment, so patients should anticipate that, for most, this will be a lifelong process and is a commitment.
Effectiveness of OIT Treatment for Tree Nut Allergies
A 2017 study of children showed the success of OIT. The researchers gave children either a placebo or the OIT treatment for walnuts. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI):
“A group of subjects with a median age of 9 years-old received 142 weeks of open label walnut oral immunotherapy after completing 38 weeks of blind, placebo-controlled treatment. The goal was to find how well the therapy desensitized the patients from walnut, as well as to a second tree nut such as pecans, cashew, hazelnut, and pistachios.
‘Nine subjects underwent an oral food challenge by week 142. Desensitization to both walnut and a test tree nut was observed in 7 out of the 9 subjects,’ said Robbie D. Pesek, MD. ‘After four weeks off of walnut oral immunotherapy four out of those seven patients who were desensitized, or 57%, also demonstrated sustained unresponsiveness to walnuts and tree nuts and six out of seven subjects had sustained unresponsiveness to just walnut.’
The study is currently ongoing with additional subjects.”
What Food Allergies Can Be Treated by OIT?
Here at The Allergy Group, we offer OIT for treatment of milk, eggs, peanut, tree nut, and wheat allergies. We accept insurance and the treatment is covered with most plans, although there is expected to be some costs to the patient.
If you or anyone in your family is struggling with food allergies, get in touch with us here at The Allergy Group today! We have a variety of treatment options to help you find the right one for you!