Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. A peanut allergy is a reaction that occurs when an individual’s body mistakenly identifies peanuts as harmful substances. Individuals who are allergic to peanuts can have severe, potentially life-threatening, allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). The standard approach to care for peanut allergy is to avoid exposure. However, researchers continue to study different types of therapies, such as oral immunotherapy (desensitization), in order to protect an individual from anaphylaxis.
Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is a type of treatment that involves feeding an allergic individual an increasing amount of an allergen to increase the threshold that triggers a reaction. For example, a person with a peanut allergy would be given small amounts of peanut protein that would not trigger a reaction. This small amount is gradually increased in the allergist’s office over months. Over time, the threshold that may trigger a reaction is raised, ultimately providing the allergic individual protection against accidental ingestion of the allergen.
How it works
Oral tolerance is the default immune response in the gut. When a food allergy occurs, this process fails and a pathologic Th2 response is activated. Oral immunotherapy is a therapy that aims to restore immune tolerance in food-allergic individuals. The goal of OIT is to modify the immune response towards specific food protein antigens, inducing permanent tolerance to the food so allergic reactions will not occur upon re-exposure after a period of abstinence.
OIT is not a curative therapy. Individuals who receive OIT should continue to carry epinephrine, read labels closely, etc.
With allergy skin testing and/or blood testing, we can discover hidden triggers, confirm suspected triggers, and provide additional treatments, including oral immunotherapy if appropriate. We also offer food challenge appointments as well as food/drug patch testing appointments.
Contact Northeast Allergy, Asthma & Immunology today to schedule your appointment.