In most practices, avoiding food is the only treatment for food allergies — but not here. Chad W. Mayer, DO, FAAAAI, FAAP, and Ronda Barak-Norris, MD, FACAAI, have offered oral immunotherapy (OIT) at Allergy & Asthma Institute of Southeast Michigan since 2011. Dr. Mayer was among the first doctors in the country to provide OIT, and he’s on the board of the Food Allergy Support Team (FAST), a group of board-certified allergists representing the original innovators and leaders in the OIT community. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Farmington Hills, Michigan, or book online today.
Food allergies begin when your immune system overreacts to proteins. After mistakenly identifying a food protein as dangerous, the immune system develops antibodies to the protein. Every time you consume that protein, antibodies trigger the release of chemicals that cause your allergic reaction.
The most common food allergies in children include:
Food allergies often start in childhood but can appear at any age. Adults are more likely to develop allergies to shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish.
Food allergies cause a range of symptoms, including:
You may develop symptoms within a few minutes or up to two hours after consuming your allergen.
How do food intolerances differ from food allergies?
Food intolerances occur in your digestive tract when your body can’t break down certain foods. Intolerances often develop from an enzyme deficiency or because you’re sensitive to an additive or chemical.
You may be able to eat small portions of the foods you can’t tolerate. By comparison, you must avoid foods if you have an allergy.
Food allergies seriously threaten your health because they can cause anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction.
Symptoms develop rapidly during anaphylaxis, causing:
You need immediate treatment to prevent shock and possibly death. Use an epinephrine pen at the first sign of anaphylaxis and call 911.
You have limited choices when it comes to food allergy treatments:
If you don’t participate in oral immunotherapy, you only have one treatment choice: avoiding all foods and products containing your allergen.
Your provider prescribes an epinephrine injector pen to use in case of anaphylaxis.
Oral immunotherapy significantly reduces your reaction to food allergies by desensitizing your immune system. OIT begins with rapid desensitization, a day-long session in which your provider gives you a dose of your allergen every 30 minutes. This continues until you have a mild reaction or end the day without any reactions.
After rapid desensitization, you have weekly appointments. Your provider gives you a slightly larger dose in the office. If you don’t have a reaction, you take daily doses at home until your next weekly appointment.
If you suspect you or your child has a food allergy, don’t wait to seek treatment. Call the office or book an appointment online right away.