Oral immunotherapy, or OIT, is a newer treatment for food allergies. OIT is based on exposure. During the treatment, the patient is exposed to the allergen in small doses, increasing over time to build desensitization against the food. If you have heard of OIT, you might be wondering if you or your child are a good candidate for the process. Here’s what you need to know before seeing an allergist.
As of right now, OIT is only used to treat food allergies. In our office, we currently only provide OIT for peanut allergy. As advances are made to this treatment option, more foods may be added. It is possible that OIT could be used to minimize the effects of other allergies, although these clinical trials and studies are still ongoing.
It is also important to distinguish between a food allergy and food intolerance. A food intolerance is an issue with the digestive tract, while a food allergy is due to the body’s immune system (specifically immunoglobulin E or IgE) attacking in response to ingestion of a food, such as peanuts. You should have a food allergy to peanuts to be a candidate for OIT in our office.
While OIT has been tried and effective for adults, the best candidates for OIT are children. Oral immunotherapy has been proven to be more effective for children than teens or adults. A child can undergo OIT if they are at least four years of age and are able to effectively communicate their allergy symptoms.
A patient who wants to undergo oral immunotherapy should be healthy overall. There are some risks to OIT, and you will need to carry an epinephrine autoinjector at all times. Patients with asthma must have their asthma under good control without frequent exacerbations or symptoms to undergo OIT. .
If you are interested in trying oral immunotherapy for yourself or your child, contact us today for more information or to schedule your appointment.