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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

New Hope for Food Allergy Sufferers

Dec 31, 2018 09:16PM

Researchers estimate up to 15 million Americans—5.9 million of which are under the age of 18, which equates to one in 13 children or roughly two in every school classroom— have food allergies.

Oral immunotherapy (OIT) and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) induce desensitization, meaning that once the process is completed, patients will be desensitized to the foods to which they are sensitive. At the end of the program, patients can ingest, be exposed to and tolerate the foods they were once allergic to without any reactions. OIT involves the administration of small amounts of allergen (food) to patients by mouth. SLIT involves the administration of small amounts of allergen (food) to patients under the tongue.

First, there is rapidly induced desensitization (the ability to tolerate an allergen while on immunotherapy), and then over time, induced tolerance to the allergen (long-term ability to tolerate an allergen after immunotherapy is discontinued).

Patients undergoing OIT typically ingest a mixture of allergenic protein in a liquid or soft food, whereas with SLIT, the allergen in liquid form is administered under the tongue. Treatments are typically started in a controlled setting such as an office or hospital clinic, where gradually increasing doses of an allergen are given until the targeted dose is reached.

Following this, daily dosing is done at home and increased in the office on a regular schedule. A food type is usually desensitized in a patient in about four to eight months.


Dr. Maeve O’Connor is the founder of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Relief (AAIR), in Charlotte. For more information and appointments, call 704-910-1402 or visit

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