Anyone who has experienced food allergies understands how difficult it is to avoid allergy triggers. Desensitizing the immune system to an allergen can offer a substantially better quality of life and prevent severe allergic reactions. And with the ongoing risk of allergen exposure, oral immunotherapy treatment (OIT) certainly appeals to many people. But what exactly is involved in oral immunotherapy treatment from an Atlanta allergist?
How the Oral Immunotherapy Treatment Process Works
While the OIT process will vary depending on the requirements of each patient, there are some common steps an allergist will take.
Allergy testing typically involves either a skin, blood or oral food challenge test. In addition, the allergist will look at a patient’s relevant medical history and assess their symptoms. Food allergy testing is important as it can precisely identify the allergens that are causing reactions, allowing for a tailored OIT approach. OIT is often used to treat food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, milk or eggs.
Assessment of Suitability for OIT
Unfortunately, every patient will not be a suitable candidate for oral immunotherapy treatment. For example, a person with severe asthma, a history of anaphylaxis, multiple food allergies or chronic health conditions might not be suited to undergo months of treatment. If the allergist believes there is a possibility of complications during treatment, they will often recommend an alternative treatment plan.
Initial Dose Escalation Phase
The initial phase of treatment occurs at the allergist’s office over several hours. A patient receives a personalized treatment plan that involves diluted doses of the allergen. The patient is monitored for signs of allergic symptoms as quantities are gradually increased. If the individual can safely tolerate the set dose, they are ready to start the next phase.
Buildup Dose Phase
After the first day, patients are required to return every two weeks for gradually increasing doses. The treatment is closely monitored to ensure safety, with medical staff on-hand in case of a severe reaction (which is rare). This phase continues until the patient reaches a maintenance dose, which often takes several months.
OIT Maintenance Phase
The OIT maintenance phase aims to sustain a patient’s tolerance through continued consumption of the allergen – for example, eating a set number of peanuts to ensure desensitization. “Reaching a maintenance dose” means that a person is able to tolerate a sizable amount of the allergen without sensitivity.
Assessment of Long-Term Tolerance
The treatment goal is to reach a point where consuming the problem food (purposely or accidentally) will not cause an allergic reaction. And a patient will typically return to their allergist’s office for an occasional tolerance assessment. During these visits, tolerance is monitored and if necessary, adjustments are made to ensure tolerance can be maintained. This practice results in many patients sharing their oral immunotherapy treatment success stories.
Atlanta’s Trusted Oral Immunotherapy Treatment Provider
Chacko Food Allergy Treatment Center has experienced allergists/immunologists with allergy treatment centers in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, Cumming, Druid Hills, Duluth, and Johns Creek. To learn more about OIT and other allergy treatments, call (678) 668-4688 or request an appointment today.
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