Will OIT cure my food allergy?
No – food OIT is designed to reduce sensitivity to the allergen and thus reduce the risk of accidental reactions. If it proves effective, the child needs to continue to have a small amount of it in their diet on a regular basis. Without this, they will be allergic again. New research has suggested that OIT in young children (under 5) still in the window where they may spontaneously outgrow their allergy, may be more likely to do so as a result of OIT.
How Often Do I Have to Take the dose of food allergen?
There are three (3) parts of the process: the initial dose escalation phase, up-dosing phase, and the maintenance phase.
- The initial dose escalation phase must be completed at the start of the process and will vary depending on the treatment but as well as having the first dose(s) it is also an opportunity to explain the whole programme to you in detail. As long as the dose is tolerated, you can progress to the next stage.
- There are between seven (7) and eleven (11) steps of the up-dosing phase depending on the treatment programme. The first dose of each up-dosing level is given under direct supervision, because this is when there is the highest risk of a reaction. If you tolerate the first dose of a new level, you will continue to take that dose level every day at home. The food allergen should be taken with a meal at the same time each day. You will return to the clinic every two (2) weeks during the up-dosing phase although this can be longer if preferred. Once all up-dosing steps are complete you will begin the maintenance phase.
- During the maintenance phase you will continue to take agreed maintenance dose every day. After completion of a year of treatment, you may wish to change the form of the allergen to something your child prefers.
How Do I Take the food allergen?
This will depend on the food but usually it would be mixed up with a small amount of a semi-solid food such as pudding, applesauce, or yogurt but not a liquid. Always wash your hands immediately after handling the allergen.
What Side Effects Should I Expect?
Side effects are common, especially in older children, but are usually mild. The most common side effects are stomach pain/cramping and itching of the mouth or throat. These symptoms are usually mild and typically do not require intervention. Antihistamines, or reducing the dose can be helpful if these are problematic. It is important to be aware that food allergens can cause severe life-threatening reactions, known as anaphylaxis, in the same way that the food in other forms can do. Symptoms include but are not limited to: trouble breathing, wheezing, chest tightness, throat tightness, trouble swallowing, swelling of lips, face, tongue or eyes, dizziness, fainting, severe stomach pain, vomiting, and/or diarrhoea. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop and seek medical attention immediately. You will be trained in recognising and treating severe reactions at the start of treatment.
Do I Have to Keep My Epinephrine Auto-Injector?
Food OIT is not a cure for allergy. It is important to continue to avoid the allergen and continue to carry an epinephrine auto-injector wherever you go.
Can I Take Extra Doses of allergen to Speed Up the Process?
No – it can only be taken once a day as prescribed. You cannot make adjustments to your dosing as this will increase your risk of a severe reaction.
Will Food OIT Treat Any of My Other Food Allergies?
No. It’s a very specific treatment so it will have no impact at all on your other food allergies. The exception will be OIT to cashew, which should have an effect for pistachio allergy and walnut OIT for pecan allergy.
Who Should Not do Food OIT?
Patients who have Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE) or uncontrolled asthma should not be considered for food OIT. Also it is only suitable for patients over 17 years.
If I Am Over 17, Can I Still Start PALFORZIA?
No, PALFORZIA is only approved for treatment for patients aged 4 through to 17 years.
If my child is under 4, Can they Still Start PALFORZIA?
No, PALFORZIA is only approved for treatment for patients aged 4 through to 17 years but we can still do peanut OIT using regular peanut.
Can I Take my OIT dose Before Bed?
You should stay awake for one hour after taking the dose in order to monitor symptoms. It can potentially cause serious adverse reactions so it’s important to be awake.
Can I Exercise Before or After Taking my dose?
In order to prevent the risk of an adverse event, you should not exercise or take a hot bath or shower for three (3) hours after taking the dose. If you have exercised or taken a hot shower or bath do not take the dose until you have cooled down, are not sweating, and your heart rate is beating at your normal rhythm.
If I Am Sick, Should I Skip My Dose?
If you are sick you should contact our office to discuss this with the clinician as certain illness can potentially increase the risk of an adverse event. No adjustments should be made to the dose without consulting one of our clinicians.
I Am Ready to Get Started, What Is My First Step?
Interested in desensitisation to other food allergens such as sesame, treenuts, milk, egg or wheat?
We hope to soon be able to offer desensitisation to sesame and treenuts. If you would like to know more about these treatments when they are available please click below: