Science is constantly finding new ways to wow us. Be it a means of traveling more efficiently, a piece of technology that enhances our day-to-day experiences, or a development that can help us live a little better or longer, there is always a new discovery or finding that is entirely worthy of our applause.
That’s especially true when it comes to the relatively underdeveloped – and unexplored – world of oral immunotherapy.
Quite simply, oral immunotherapy works in a similar way to a vaccine; someone with a very specific allergy is fed with that which they are allergic to, given increasing amounts over time, in the hope that in the long term their ability to deal with the allergen will be enhanced.
But what is the current state of oral immunotherapy? What are the key risks, benefits, and how is the practice set to alter in the years to come?
The Current State
Food allergies can be incredibly detrimental. Estimates suggest that in there are approximately 32 million Americans with food allergy and (https://www.foodallergy.org/resources/facts-and-statistics) and every year 200,000 people require emergency room visits for food allergy reactions (https://www.foodallergy.org/resources/facts-and-statistics). There are 1.81 deaths per million people in the United States (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4165304/). That’s where oral immunotherapy comes in. While it is still in the early stages of development, it has proven to be very effective. Therapies utilizing milk, for example, have been found to be incredibly beneficial to school-aged children (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22897785), while oral immunotherapy to directly target egg allergies has also been proven to be very efficient (https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/768858).
However, because oral immunotherapy therapies are still in their infancy, there are still a number of side effects that are quite prevalent. For example, many people utilizing such treatments have stated that they can develop difficulties when it comes to swallowing, vomit more than is usual, have an itchy mouth that cannot be dealt with, and suffer temporary bouts of wheezing. Some patient do experience anaphylaxis (which is a severe allergic reaction and some of the common symptoms are shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, swelling of the throat or tongue) and it is relatively common to have gastrointestinal symptoms. If these cannot be endured through the course of the treatment, the effectiveness of the treatment may be limited.
It is hoped that these issues will be ironed out over time, but at the moment they do exist.
It is estimated that nearly 2.5 % of U. S. children may have an allergy to peanut, up 21% since 2010 (https://acaai.org/news/new-study-suggests-21-percent-increase-childhood-peanut-allergy-2010). This is perhaps the most concerning, most common and most unpredictable of the food allergens. But there is now new hope…
At the end of January the FDA – a federal agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services – announced that it had approved the use of Palforzia, an oral immunotherapy medicine designed to assist those with peanut allergies. It has been designated for children, ages of 4 and 17 set to benefit. However, while the FDA has concluded that this treatment is effective and safe, it is still advised that sufferers refrain from eating peanuts. It is designed to reduce or eliminate the severe allergic response that occurs from the accidental ingestion of peanut. It is not designed to allow free eating of peanuts.
If you would like to be tested for your allergies or believe you might be a good candidate for food oral immunotherapy or would just like to understand your food allergies, Dr. Wendt and her staff at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives would love to help.
Relieve Allergy Asthma & Hives is located near Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter, DC Ranch and Grayhawk at 21803 N. Scottsdale Road Ste. 200, on the corners of Deer Valley and Scottsdale Roads, and has convenient evening and early morning hours to accommodate your schedule.
Dr. Wendt is also available for telemedicine appointments as appropriate. Insurance plans accepted. Call 480-500-1902 today to schedule an appointment and begin your allergy testing and treatment with Dr. Wendt at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Learn more about Dr. Wendt and Relieve Allergy Asthma & Hives at www.relieveallergyaz.com and FOLLOW US on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Linked In.