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What is Oral Immunotherapy (OIT)?

OIT is a treatment for select food allergies.

For over a decade, allergists across the US have been using OIT to treat patients who have IgE-mediated food allergies. 


OIT teaches the immune system to tolerate a food. This is accomplished by the patient eating microgram to milligram amounts of the allergen under specific safety parameters.

Here at the Institute, we use real foods - such as peanut butter and bagels - to teach our patients' immune systems to grow tolerance to their allergens.

 

Who may be a candidate for OIT?

OIT treats IgE-mediated food allergies.

OIT is used for children and adults who have IgE-mediated food allergies. An IgE-mediated food allergy is a food allergy that involves allergic antibodies called IgE. When these antibodies sense their allergen (such as what happens with a child with peanut allergy eats a peanut), the antibodies trigger the immune system to react. That reaction is called anaphylaxis and may involve hives, swelling, trouble breathing, vomiting, and potentially death, especially if not treated promptly with an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen or AuviQ).


Patients of any age, including infants, may qualify for OIT. They must:

  • Have IgE-mediated food allergy (one or more)

  • Be willing to participate within safety guidelines

  • Attend multiple in-office appointments (unless participating in a Comfort Concierge plan)

OIT is not the right management plan for every patient with IgE-mediated food allergy. Patients and their families must be in the right season of life to commit to OIT.

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What risks are associated with OIT?

OIT does carry risks.

Because OIT involves daily ingestion of small amounts of the allergen, there is a risk of anaphylaxis. Many children participate in OIT with few or mild symptoms, and this likely is because we at the Institute proceed with conservative protocols and counsel our families at length about safety parameters. Dosing outside of safety parameters, such as when a child has a fever, can lower the threshold to have an allergic reaction.


OIT also carries the risk of eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE). EOE is a non-anaphylactic food allergy that causes inflammation of the esophagus.

The risks of OIT are discussed at length with our families prior to embarking on OIT, and we continue to revisit the safety parameters throughout therapy.

 

Is OIT right for my child?

The answer to this question is personalized to every patient.

At the Institute, we do not recommend nor do we start all patients with IgE-mediated food allergy on OIT. That is because OIT is not the best treatment plan for all patients. 


Each of our patients receives personalized recommendations based on multiple factors. Through shared decision-making, we work with our patients and their families to determine the best management plan for the current season of their lives.

If you would like your child or yourself evaluated for OIT, please contact our office to schedule a Comprehensive Food Allergy Consultation.

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