Food Allergy Treatment

As recently as the late 2010s, people with food allergies were solely told to avoid their allergens. In fact, many people were simply guided to avoid entire categories of foods. So someone with a cashew allergy might have been told to avoid all nuts — peanuts, walnuts, pecans, and so on. Unfortunately, despite best efforts, people could still come into contact with their allergens, in some cases causing life-threatening reactions.

Can Food Allergies Be Treated?

Thanks to increased awareness of food allergies and scientific breakthroughs, new treatment options have emerged. Life changing alternatives beyond avoidance are now available to families with food allergies. Innovative treatments like oral immunotherapy (OIT) have transformed the landscape, with thousands of people achieving new levels of protection and improved quality of life.

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What Causes Food Allergies?

In order to understand how food allergies can be treated, it’s first important to understand why food allergies happen at all. Simply put, a food allergy is the body’s way of attacking what it perceives to be a threat. The immune system reacts to a specific food protein by creating an antibody called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), as if it’s fighting off an infection. Even the smallest amount of the reaction-causing food can trigger a reaction, and symptoms can range from seemingly small (itching, sneezing) to moderate (hives) to severe (difficulty breathing, anaphylaxis). 

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to predict how the body will react to each subsequent exposure of an allergenic food. So even if a person has an initial mild reaction once, the next exposure could be the same…or more severe.

How Are Food Allergies Treated?

In most cases, food allergy treatment is essentially a desensitization process. The body is slowly trained to accept the allergen’s proteins, so they are no longer considered a threat. With OIT for example, the patient will take gradually increasing doses over the course of months to build up a tolerance. While this may sound scary, it is performed in a controlled manner and the outcome often outweighs the risk. 

Food allergy treatment, however, is not necessarily a cure. The process builds up protection up to a certain amount. Upon reaching your desired protection level, you will then need ongoing maintenance with consistent exposure to the safe level of allergen to ensure your body doesn’t regress.

Patient Experience with Treatment at Latitude

The team here actually cares about you. They do not give you “templated” plans, in the box plans or tell you to just avoid food the rest of your life. They understand allergies, they understand the struggle and build plans that work for you. They listen, they understand and they build custom plans for you or your child.” — Jenifer L., Mother of Patient

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Can You Outgrow Food Allergies?

Some people will outgrow their allergies over time. For example, more than half of children with egg allergies will outgrow the allergy by the time they are 16 years old.  

So why would you treat food allergies if there is a chance your body will outgrow them? If half of the people will outgrow their allergy, that means half will not. And studies have shown that some specific allergens have a lower likelihood of being outgrown. For example, only 20% of people with a peanut allergy are likely to outgrow it. The only way to be confident that  someone has outgrown an allergy is annual allergy testing — including blood tests, skin tests and, if recommended, an oral food challenge.

Importantly, the hope of possibly outgrowing an allergy does not provide protection from an allergic reaction in the meantime. Proactively treating your food allergies can provide a level of protection, as well as peace of mind.

What is the First Step in Treating Food Allergies?

It may sound odd to say, but the first step in treating food allergies is actually confirming that you have a food allergy. Some symptoms of food allergies are similar to other ailments like food sensitivity or Celiac Disease, which can create uncertainty and confusion regarding the best treatment path. It’s critical to get an accurate diagnosis from a clinician who is experienced with food allergies to understand if that is the cause of your issues. In addition to confirming your allergy, testing can clarify the specific food or foods that you are allergic to. 

While confirming your food allergy, you will want to continue to avoid any accidental exposure to the potential allergen. Based on your personal health history, you may be prescribed an epipen in case you have a severe allergic reaction. Over-the-counter antihistamines are also available for minor reactions. Note, however, that you should not take antihistamines and some other medications for several days prior to food allergy testing, as they may adversely impact testing results.

After confirming your true food allergy, you are able to  work with your clinician to develop a clear plan for treatment.

Food Allergy Treatment at Latitude

At Latitude, we focus on the treatment of food allergies with OIT and Xolair® (omalizumab). Our experience in delivering positive outcomes to thousands of patients supports this, specifically with 92% of our OIT patients achieving desensitization. 

Our clinical team will determine whether you are a good candidate for food allergy treatment, by evaluating your medical history, symptoms and reactions, and your family’s lifestyle to ensure that your treatment is as safe and as effective as possible.

How to Start Food Allergy Treatment

Are you or someone you love impacted by a food allergy? Improve your quality of life and unlock a better future with Latitude Food Allergy Care. Latitude offers comprehensive food allergy care, including testing, treatment, and prevention, for patients of all ages. Contact us today to schedule a no-obligation conversation with one of our Patient Care Coordinators.

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