We started oral immunotherapy September 2011. Dr. Mayer was among the first doctors in the country to offer oral immunotherapy. Dr. Mayer is on the board of FAST – Food Allergy Support Team. A group comprised of board-certified allergists who are the original innovators and leaders in the OIT community.
Oral immunotherapy is a process to alter the immune system to not respond to the food allergy. The process is called desensitization. Desensitization is used to treat numerous other allergies including environmental allergies (allergy shots) medication and allergies (example: Penicillin) along with food allergies.
Oral immunotherapy for food was first described in an article in 1908. Over the last 15 years there have been extensive studies looking at oral immunotherapy, the process, success rates, potential side effects and reaction rates for numerous different foods.
The treatment is customized and fully tailored to each patient and their specific needs. The ability to customize a protocol significantly increases the success of completing treatment and mitigate side effects.
The objective of oral immunotherapy is to improve the quality of life of patients and families by reducing risks of food reactions dramatically and allowing freedom to interact with the outside world with less risk upon exposure to food allergens.
Time commitment: 1 hour
We discuss past and current medical history as well as food allergy history. During the visit we will review past allergy testing results (both skin and blood results). At this visit we will review the customized protocol.
Time commitment: 1 hour 20 minutes (23–29 weeks)
Each week patients will return for the next step in the protocol. One dose would be given and then the patient will be monitored for 1 hour. When this dose has been tolerated then the patient will be sent home with the supplies necessary to continue this dose daily.
Time commitment: 6–8 hours
The first day of the treatment is referred to as rapid desensitization. This will help desensitize and reduce significantly the number of return trips needed to complete the protocol. Throughout this day, in 30 minute intervals, the patient will receive 1 dose of allergen. After 30 minutes, if no noted symptoms appear, the next dose will be given. The day continues until there is a mild symptom or the day has been completed without any symptoms. After the day is over you will be sent home on the last tolerated dose along with all necessary supplies.
Time commitment: Potentially lifelong
Once the protocol has been completed there will be a daily maintenance dose. Each year return for a follow-up visit for evaluation and laboratory studies. Each year the patient will be assessed for the potential to reduce to less than daily dosing. The goal is to reduce dosing in order to reduce the burden of therapy but maintaining the ongoing immunological protection.