My Oral Immunotherapy: Experience and Tips
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), “Oral immunotherapy (OIT) refers to the medically supervised therapy of feeding an allergic individual an increasing amount of a food allergen with the goal of increasing the threshold that triggers a reaction.” OIT reduces the chance of having an allergic reaction if one accidentally ate a small amount of what they are allergic to. After a while of being on OIT, it will desensitize about 60-80% of an allergen. The allergic might also feel more comfortable eating food made in the same facility as their allergy, which would be a very large milestone.
If one does not follow the directions of OIT or is not listening to their doctor, they could end up having harsh side effects, including anaphylaxis. This is a severe reaction to an antigen that can cause a skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and shock. Another slightly less life-threatening side effect is wheezing or coughing.
Over the past decade, numerous people have been treated successfully by OIT, and my personal experience has been positive. I am allergic to peanuts, which my parents discovered when I was two years old. The first symptom of my allergic reaction was that my eyelid puffed up quickly. For the past six years, I have been in the midst of OIT treatment. Due to my environmental allergies and getting colds, my treatment has been slower than normal. I started off with drinking a small amount of cranberry juice containing a grain of a peanut. Currently, I am up to about eating three peanut M&Ms a day. After I eat my three peanut M&Ms, I usually do homework or watch television. Basically, I am not active for about two hours. Personally, I feel very blessed and appreciative that I was given the opportunity to do OIT.
Furthermore, I have some tips for people who are going through the OIT process. The first tip is to eat before taking the dose. It is recommended to consume foods that contain carbohydrates before OIT. After one receives the allergen that they are allergic to, have a cookie to remove the allergen taste. After receiving the dosage, the patient cannot be stimulated for two hours. During this time, my suggestions are to do homework, rest, or watch television. To fit exercise into the day, do it one hour beforehand.
Disclaimer: only do OIT if your doctor lets you.
“The Current State of Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for the Treatment of Food Allergy.”
www.AAAAI.Org, www.aaaai.org. Accessed 2 Feb. 2022.