The Science of Food Allergy Therapy
According to Food Allergy Research and Education, food allergies affect 15 million Americans, including 5.9 million children under the age of 18. These individuals must be constantly conscious of any trigger foods or ingredients and always be prepared for an outbreak. If you or a loved one suffers from a food allergy – great news! New treatments are on the horizon and researchers are learning more each day!
Food Oral Immunotherapy (OIT)
This treatment is among the most popular potential cures for food allergies. Essentially, a patient is slowly introduced to the specific food or allergen and to build immunity. The patient will start with a small amount and continue to increase that amount over a short period of time. Recent data shows that Food Oral Immunotherapy temporarily desensitizes patients, but there is still potential for allergic reactions during this treatment, especially when the doses are increased. However, it is important to note that these studies are ongoing. The long-term effects or duration needed for this treatment is unknown.
Food Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT)
This treatment is similar to Food Oral Immunotherapy in that it involves ingesting a small amount of the relevant allergen. However, with Food Sublingual Immunotherapy, patients ingest a tiny drop of liquid containing the food instead of the actual food. The individual puts the drop underneath their tongue and swallows. Sublingual, by definition, means to put a substance under the tongue.. With time, the amount of drops will increase. The data from this treatment is not as strong as OIT, but researchers will continue to study positive trends.
Epicutaneous Immunotherapy (EPIT)
Are you familiar with the nicotine patches that smokers use in an attempt to quit their habit? Epicutaneous Immunotherapy approaches food allergies in the same way. With this treatment, a patch containing the food allergen is placed on the patient’s skin. This patch releases small amounts of the allergen into the skin. Researchers believe that over time this exposure will shock the immune system and the severity of the allergen and its strength will decrease.
Researchers have been studying one common question for a while now: how can someone who is allergic to milk and/or eggs consume baked goods that contain milk and eggs? Data shows that if an individual regularly consumers baked goods containing the specific allergen, they may be able to develop a tolerance. This tolerance will be formed at an accelerated pace based on how often the individual consumes baked goods. Essentially, this treatment has the potential to allow individuals to outgrow the allergy. This practice is quickly becoming accepted and is practiced by many individuals.
Modified Food Allergens
Immune systems are able to recognize exactly which protein/allergen to react to. Researchers have studied individuals with peanut allergies and determined which part of the peanut the immune system responds to. This research is this powered through biotechnology (the study of the genetic manipulation of microorganisms) and can potentially modify that specific allergen. Essentially, this could “trick” the immune system and not cause the reaction. Again, this treatment is still being studied and the long-term effects have not been discovered.
Do you need coverage?
If you are a senior, have food allergies, and need additional health coverage, Medicare Plan Finder is a great way to get information. They can help find a plan specific to your needs and budget. To get in contact with a licensed agent, call 1-844-431-1832 or fill out this form.