If you have food allergies, consuming a peanut butter sandwich, or eating shell fish could cause you to experience generalized itching, redness of your skin, hives, vomiting, respiratory distress and other symptoms. Such reactions can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening reactions, often referred to as anaphylaxis.
Oral Immunotherapy - Food Allergy Treatment
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.
Food allergy awareness is important
Food is the leading cause of anaphylaxis (life threatening reaction) in children. One in 13 children suffer from food allergies. Almost 12 million Americans suffer from food allergy. Around 90% of all reactions in the United States occur from milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. More than 150 people die annually from food anaphylaxis.
Understanding the risks & causes
If you or your child has food allergy, the immune system overreacts to a food. This is caused by an antibody called IgE (Immunoglobulin E) which causes the activation of immune system leading to adverse reactions, which could be potentially life threatening. The risk for such reactions is higher if you are allergic or have asthma or have had previous food reactions.
The signs are hard to ignore
Symptoms and signs develop within minutes to 2 hours of consuming the culprit food “allergen”. These allergic reactions are reproducible and generally seen on the skin (hives, itchiness, swelling of the skin). Gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea) and respiratory symptoms may accompany skin symptoms. Severe Allergic Reactions known as anaphylaxis can be potentially fatal. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include difficulty breathing, dizziness or loss of consciousness. In this case, medical attention should be sought immediately (call 911).
Prevent future reactions. Get accurately diagnosed.
A board-certified allergist is the best qualified professional to diagnose food allergy. The Allergy Group will take a through medical history followed by a physical examination. Allergy skin scratch tests are performed to determine the “culprit” foods. In skin testing, a small amount of extract made from the food is placed on the back or arm. If a raised bump or small hive develops within 20 minutes, it indicates a possible allergy. Skin scratch tests have a 95% negative predictive value, meaning there is a 95% chance that the patient is not allergic to the food if there is not a reaction. Blood tests for specific foods is also available and may be recommended by your provider.
Oral food challenge is the gold standard to confirm food allergy. Food challenges are done by consuming the food in a controlled medical setting and may be recommended by your provider.
In the event you or your child is diagnosed with food allergy, your allergist will also educate you on how to prevent future reactions and how to self-administer epinephrine in the event of a reaction.
Children outgrow food allergies
Most children outgrow cow’s milk, egg, soy and wheat allergy, by school age or sooner. About 20% of children with peanut allergy outgrow it. About 9% of children with tree nut allergy outgrow it. A board-certified allergist can help you learn when your child might outgrow a food allergy.
The Allergy Group - Friendly, Capable and Experienced
Our team of physicians and healthcare professionals at The Allergy Group are highly experienced and trained to provide you with the best care and help you live better. We are committed to your personal healthcare.
Food allergy can be confusing. The stakes are high. Call 208-377-4000 today or use our online form to schedule an appointment.