Services‎ > ‎

Oral Immunotherapy

Kaneland Allergy & Asthma Center is pleased to offer its patients oral immunotherapy for foods - an exciting new option in the treatment of food allergy.

Until recently, the only practical option for patients with food allergy was avoidance. However, the fear of accidental ingestion from mislabeled foods or cross-contamination was an ever-present fear for even the most careful of food-allergic individuals. Now, there is a treatment modality that can actually enable food-allergic patients to consume their allergen without fear of a reaction. It's called "oral immunotherapy" (also known as "oral desensitization").

Oral immunotherapy is a method of inducing your immune system to tolerate a food that it is currently over-reacting to. It involves re-introducing the allergenic food to your system in gradually increasing amounts, with the goal of allowing you to eventually consume the food without experiencing a reaction.

Because food allergies can be life-threatening, oral immunotherapy should only be administered under the supervision and guidance of a Board-Certified Allergist trained to provide the therapy in a safe and effective manner. Therefore, this treatment should NEVER be attempted at home!

As with any medical treatment, oral immunotherapy carries some risks, including the risk of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction). This is why it's so important to fully discuss the options with your Allergist and make an informed decision.

You should know that oral immunotherapy involves a time commitment to be successful. It starts with an initial "desensitization day", which involves administering incremental doses of extremely dilute allergen preparations to the patient over a period of ~6-7 hours. This prepares the immune system to accept daily doses of the dilute preparation at home. Doses are then increased under medical supervision every 1-2 weeks, over a period of approximately 6-12 months. Once a patient successfully reaches his/her "maintenance dose", the fear of a reaction from cross-contamination or accidental ingestion is essentially eliminated. This significantly reduces the risk of anaphylaxis.

When performed according to protocols that have been carefully devised to ensure safety, oral immunotherapy can be a life-changing treatment option for both adults and children suffering from food allergies. Many patients are able to freely incorporate the previously-allergenic food into the diet, which opens up a whole new world of dietary possibilities. Multiple food allergies can be treated, although they must be treated one at a time.

Of course, oral immunotherapy for foods isn't right for everyone. It only treats IgE-mediated food allergies, not food intolerances. Oral immunotherapy can not be given to patients who are unable to communicate their symptoms to the health care team. Therefore, a patient must be at least 5 years of age and have good communication skills in order to be considered for therapy. Patients with active asthma symptoms are not good candidates for therapy until their asthma can be controlled.

If you or your child have been impacted by a significant food allergy, consider talking to us about oral immunotherapy. Together, we can transform fear into freedom!

Sakina Bajowala,
Sep 1, 2017, 9:25 AM