Imagine a reality where you can eat anything you want at any time without having to worry about how it was prepared or if it has any secret ingredients. For people with food allergies, such a reality can seem like an unattainable dream. But did you know that there might be a way for you to gain a little more freedom in your daily life? At Asthma Allergy Centre in Tigard, OR, we believe that anything is possible with the right allergy treatment, such as oral immunotherapy.
The Surprising Benefits of Oral Immunotherapy
Oral immunotherapy is a type of allergy treatment that gradually exposes the patient to the source of the allergy to build a tolerance. This treatment is a type of desensitizing therapy that uses small doses of the allergen to reduce the degree of severe allergic reaction. Immunotherapy works by orally administering the allergen to the patient in a controlled setting and monitoring for reactions. Over time, the patient will become less reactive to the allergen and less restrained in daily freedoms.
Immunotherapy is a promising type of therapy that is proven safe and effective for reducing the degree of allergic reaction in patients of all ages. Explore a few of the surprising benefits you can gain from oral immunotherapy before you call to schedule your consultation appointment!
Protects Against Allergic Reactions
One of the main benefits of this therapy is the ability to protect yourself against allergic reactions. Allergic reactions are physical responses that follow exposure from an allergen. The degree of allergic reaction depends on the severity of your allergy and how much of the allergen you are exposed to. Being protected from allergic reactions or reducing the severity of allergic reactions is the main purpose of immunotherapy.
Why Do You Have a Food Allergy?
Scientists agree that more people seem to be developing food allergies than ever before, but they can’t quite figure out the cause. This means that we don’t know why food allergies are increasingly common, although some researchers point to environmental factors and how food is harvested. However, just because we don’t know why food allergies are common doesn’t mean we don’t know what causes a food allergy biologically speaking.
A food allergy is a result of a response from the immune system. When you ingest a food that you are allergic to, your immune system tags one of the food components as dangerous to your body and triggers a response from the immune system. Your body releases histamines, which can cause a variety of physical symptoms that are associated with food allergies.
What Are Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction?
Although many people have food allergies, not all allergic reactions look the same. In fact, some allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) depend on the amount of food ingested and how quickly your digestive system works. Many food allergies are characterized by symptoms such as:
- Itchy mouth
- Swelling of the mouth or throat
- Belly pain
- Low blood pressure
How Are Food Allergies Managed?
As of now, most people use two methods to manage food allergies. The first method is to avoid the allergen altogether by carefully reading labels, preparing your food yourself, or letting food-preparers know that you have allergies. However, because avoiding the food you are allergic to is not a fool-proof solution, the majority of people with serious food allergies carry an EpiPen.
An EpiPen does not cure you of your allergy, but it does alleviate the symptoms of an allergic reaction. In particular, an EpiPen can reduce swelling and help you breathe easier until you can seek further medical attention. Until now, avoiding the allergen and using an EpiPen were the only options for people who have food allergies. Immunotherapy is a new option that can help you more easily manage allergic reactions and also gain more daily freedoms.
Reduces Fear of Accidental Exposure
Being able to go through your day without worrying about accidental exposure is an attractive prospect for potential patients. One of the greatest fears for people with food allergies and their loved ones is the risk of accidental exposure, something that is exponentially more possible when not at home. Because of this, those with food allergies sometimes have to greatly restrain their activities to reduce the possibility of accidental exposure.
What Is Accidental Exposure?
Accidental exposure is the leading cause of allergic reactions, and it is a constant source of anxiety, especially for parents. Accidental exposure occurs when someone with a food allergy touches or ingests a food without knowing. A common scenario for accidental exposure is sharing a kiss, touching hands to mouth, or even sharing a glass. Other common scenarios include eating foods containing the allergen without knowing the ingredients or even inhaling food particles in close proximity with other people.
Foods With Common Allergies
Are there foods that are more commonly associated with food allergies than others? A handful of foods are associated with greater incidents of food allergies. These foods include:
- Tree nuts
There are many other foods that people can develop allergens for, such as strawberries, sesame seeds, and even chocolate. Some patients opt for a comprehensive allergy panel, such as a drop test or a blood test, to identify less common food allergies.
Food Products With Potential Allergens
Many common foods contain ingredients that people who have food allergies need to avoid. One of the classic examples are candy bars. Since most candy bars are produced in the same facility, candy wrappers contain a warning that the product might have milk or nuts in it even if the candy bar itself isn’t made with those ingredients. This is another common cause of accidental exposure.
Creates Sustained Tolerance
Sustained tolerance is when your body is able to withstand exposure to an allergen for a long period of time after immunotherapy. For most patients, sustained tolerance is the ability to build a tolerance to the allergen and be able to minimize the severity of the allergic reaction.
Why Should You Care About Sustained Tolerance?
Sustained tolerance is very important. In a word, sustained tolerance is freedom. When your body can build a sustained tolerance, you are able to take more personal freedoms with your daily choices and live without fear of allergic reactions. Sustained tolerance also means that your body is responding well to immunotherapy and that you are essentially immune to your own food allergy.
Reintegrates Foods Into Diet
A somewhat overlooked benefit of immunotherapy is the ability to reintegrate foods into your diet. Being able to introduce foods you were previously allergic to into your diet is essential in maintaining your overall health. Because many food allergies are food common foods, such as dairy or wheat, it can be difficult to gain all the nutrients you need from the foods you eat. When you no longer suffer a severe allergic reaction, you can begin working on a balanced diet.
Why Eating Healthy Helps Maintain Health
Obviously eating healthy is some of the most basic advice for leading a healthy lifestyle. But why is a balanced diet so important? It all has to do with nutrition. Eating the right amounts of a variety of foods provides your body with all the nutrients it needs to maintain your overall health.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to powering the body and supporting the immune system or organs. For example, Vitamin C is present in many fruits and vegetables and can help protect cells from toxins and free radicals. Another nutrient that is important is iron, particularly for people who have anemia. Probiotics, which are found in many dairy products like yogurt, are also important for supporting flora in the gut and protecting the gastrointestinal tract.
Normalize Your Daily Life
The final benefit of immunotherapy is the ability to normalize your daily life. When you are no longer worrying about and guarding against an allergic reaction, it is easier to enjoy everyday moments, especially social or public events. The ability to normalize your daily life is perhaps the most important benefit of this treatment, as it returns to you a sense of freedom.
Live More Freely
What does it mean to live freely? If you have a food allergy, it might be something as simple as not double-checking a label or ingredient list before you eat. Maybe you’ll be able to try new foods without worrying, or you’ll be able to stop informing waiters that you have a food allergy. For children, the ability to live more freely will broaden social horizons even for something as simple as eating cake at a birthday party.
Although you are normalizing your daily life with immunotherapy, we still recommend keeping an EpiPen at hand just in case. The ability to live freely isn’t the same as living without caution. Being prepared for a potential allergic reaction is much different than constantly having anxiety about a potential episode. Keeping an EpiPen on you, as well as any medical tags about your allergy, is a smart measure to make sure your new freedom is protected.
Are You a Good Candidate for Oral Immunotherapy?
Many patients are potentially good candidates for this treatment. We determine your eligibility for this treatment based on a consultation, where we will discuss your experiences with food allergies and your expectations for treatment. Your consultation will also discuss the testing process for food allergies. At our clinic, we use allergy tests that are commonly seen at food allergy research centers in the U.S. and Europe; we also sometimes use the food test oral challenge.
Good candidates for this treatment include any person of any age who has some degree of food allergy. You can either have a confirmed food allergy or a suspected food allergy, both of which will be confirmed by our testing. Candidates for this treatment include those who want to suppress or reduce their food allergy. You may be a good candidate if you have:
- Current food allergies
- More than one food allergy
- Frequent allergic reactions
- Severe allergic reactions
- Limited food options
- Multiple uses of EpiPen per month
Gain the Benefits of Oral Immunotherapy Today!
Living with a food allergy means that many of your daily choices are limited or have to be altered. For some patients, the lack of freedom associated with having a food allergy is a shackle that prevents you from living your life. But just because you have a food allergy doesn’t mean you have to settle for limited choices and constant anxiety.
It’s time to imagine a world where you can live as freely as you want. If you think you might benefit from oral immunotherapy treatments, please contact Asthma Allergy Centre in Tigard, OR to schedule your consultation appointment. We look forward to helping you live a healthy and free lifestyle.