Food Oral Immunotherapy

At Allergy and Asthma Texas Health, we offer Food Oral Immunotherapy with our Befriend Health and Premium Health programs.

+ What is Food Oral Immunotherapy (FOIT)?

Recent advancements in the field of food allergy treatment have brought patients relief through Food Oral Immunotherapy (FOIT). Prior to FOIT, the only solutions for food allergy patients were allergen avoidance and carrying an epinephrine injection at all times.

FOIT can be an effective treatment option for people with food allergies so that they can tolerate exposure to the food(s) they are allergic to in a safer manner. This treatment option requires slowly increasing a patient’s exposure to the food allergen in question, starting at a very low doses and slowly increasing up to a target dose. Some of the treatment goals include providing protection from accidental exposure (such as when a child inadvertently eats something he is allergic to) and to build up immune tolerance so one can ingest larger amounts of allergen and experience minimal or no reactions.

+ Has the therapeutic use of FOIT passed the tipping point?

FOIT continues to be a non-FDA approved treatment. However, many questions and needs arising in the day-to-day practice of food allergy treatment must be addressed without delay since they are unlikely to be the subject of prospective, controlled trials. This is because FOIT involves the use of food products and not drugs. FOIT is routine in Japan and common in Europe; there is a growing number practices in the US conducting FOIT with over 2,500 patients already treated with oral immunotherapy.

+ What is desensitization?

Research supports that by building up food allergen exposure slowly, one can build tolerance or become desensitized to high doses of allergen. Desensitization is not a new concept. In fact, it is a principle routinely utilized within the allergy field through allergy desensitization against aeroallergens, insect venom (i.e. allergy shots) or drugs (i.e. penicillin, aspirin or cancer chemotherapy among many others). Dr. Elizalde is experienced in allergy desensitization and, as patient safety is the highest priority, maintains her basic life support (BLS) and pediatric advanced life support (PALS) certifications.

+ Effectiveness & Safety

The safety and efficacy of FOIT has been demonstrated repeatedly in controlled clinical trials. FOIT is a very successful treatment that sees over 80% of patients able to eat foods that once threatened their health within 6 months of treatment. Dr. Elizalde provides careful and direct supervision of all patients during this process. She is always your doctor. No mid-level providers.

+ What are the side effects?

For FOIT, side effects are fairly common. Some are mild and can include skin rashes and stomach discomfort, while others are serious and may require the use of an epinephrine auto-injector. FOIT side effects often happen during the low-dose phase when patients first start the build-up process. Side effects do tend to become less frequent as treatment continues. Dr. Elizalde is available to address any concerns.

+ Is FOIT right for me?

This is a treatment option for patients who are truly allergic to a particular food and are strongly motivated to take action aimed at reducing their sensitivity. The appropriate age for FOIT varies by the food issue. Because most children eventually acquire natural tolerance to cow’s milk, hen’s egg, and wheat, one must weigh the probability of outgrowing the allergy against the risk and stress of accidental ingestion in the interim. A key element in patient selectionis education of both the patient and the family regarding the process of FOIT, the risks of reactions and side effects, and, importantly, the expected outcome. We’ll be able to determine if FOIT is a good choice for you or your child in our first consult. Keep in mind that this is at minimum a 6-month commitment where you’ll be visiting our clinic weekly to increase doses.

+ How we determine what allergens to approach in OIT – Oral Food Challenge

For patients who know what they are allergic to, we are able to start FOIT after an initial consult with Dr. Elizalde. For patients who aren’t exactly sure or haven’t had a reaction to a certain food, we use an oral food challenge to determine the severity of allergies and food sensitivities. Food challenges are designed to understand each patient’s tolerance to their food allergy and lets Dr. Elizalde know which foods to start on FOIT.

+ How Does FOIT Work?

OIT is a process of desensitizing patients to food allergens, starting by ingesting a tiny amount of food then increasing the amount every 1-2 weeks until a full serving is able to be consumed. The entire OIT process can be completed in 4-6 months. To maintain a desensitized state, patients will continue to eat certain foods daily for an indefinite period of time. After several years, most patients only need to eat the food a few days a week, and some patients completely lose their food allergy.

+ What foods does FOIT cover?

Our extensive Oral Immunotherapy Treatment covers foods such as:

  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Peanut
  • Almond
  • Cashew
  • Hazelnut
  • Macadamia Nut
  • Pecan
  • Pistachio
  • Walnut
  • Sesame seed
  • Soy
  • Wheat

+ What is the goal of this process?

The number one goal is safety; to allow you to eat or drink food without having to worry about it.

+ How many allergies can you treat at once?

Treatment will vary from patient to patient, but the most we can treat is 3 food allergies at a time.

Interested in Food Oral Immunotherapy?

Contact our office to set up a time to speak with Dr. Elizalde.

210-899-6856    |  info@AATH.com