Food allergies are common throughout our society and seem to impact children the most. One could more than likely recall having to come to class during elementary school with a baked good for the glass but had to ensure that you took into account allergies of your classmates. A common food allergy for children is peanuts. Generally, those with food allergies carry an EpiPen with them to counteract the reaction to an allergen. There have been recent developments for alternative food allergy treatments that don’t require someone to carry an EpiPen with them at all times.
Dr. Stephen Tilles in Seattle has brought forth two new treatments that are currently being tested to allow children to eat food that would normally spark an allergic reaction.
The first treatment is a skin patch that actually contains a small amount of the food allergen’s protein. That protein is then absorbed by the top layers of the skin and begins the immunotherapy process. Currently, the most popular allergy to peanuts is being tested for this patch.
The second treatment is oral immunotherapy. The patients that are included in this test are given a low dose of an allergen while in the hospital. This dose is enough to produce mild symptoms of an allergic reaction. These children are then given that dose for several weeks until they are ready to go up in dose to build a tolerance to the allergen. Over time, as with normal immunotherapy, the patient then becomes less reactive to the allergen.
This process is done by taking a small dose of the allergen and mixing it with something like Kool-Aid before introducing it into pill form or food items. It takes approximately five to ten months to reach a maintenance dose level. This level is then tested for three years until the patient truly reaches a less reactive level to the allergen. Some of the side effects of this type of treatment could include a scratchy throat and itchy ears but this type of treatment has found an 87 percent success rate in testing.
The goal of this testing is to introduce other methods of immunotherapy to help those who suffer from food allergies. Eventually, those who suffer from food allergies and go through this immunotherapy testing will be able to introduce those allergens into their daily diet with no ramifications.