What is oral immunotherapy?
Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is a desensitization protocol to a particular food allergen. It can be an effective treatment to diminish the severity of your food allergy symptoms. The goal of OIT is to desensitize you to the point where you no longer have any reaction to the food allergen and provide you greater protection against accidentally eating the allergen.
You are a good candidate for OIT if you have been diagnosed with a true food allergy that is confirmed by a skin and/or blood test, a failed oral food challenge, and/or a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis.
How AAPRI’s OIT protocol works
AAPRI’s OIT entails a structured protocol that gradually increases the threshold that triggers a reaction. It is conducted in our office under the supervision of Dr. Vikram Malik, our specialist in food sensitivities and allergies. The protocol takes about 6 months to complete and includes an initial visit with weekly follow-up appointments.
At your first appointment, you can expect to spend 4 to 6 hours in the office with Dr. Malik. He will start by giving you a tiny dose of the food protein you are allergic to and then give you incrementally larger doses to increase your tolerance of the allergen. There is a waiting period after each dose to see if you have a reaction.
The dose you end up on by the end of your first appointment is the dose you will continue to take once each day until your next appointment the following week. Throughout the protocol you will see Dr. Malik once a week for subsequent appointments, which take about 75 minutes. At each appointment, Dr. Malik will continue to increase the dose of the food allergen.
Upon completion of the 6-month protocol, you’ll continue taking your daily dose to maintain that level of desensitization. Depending on your progress after a few months, your maintenance dose may be reduced to twice a week or stopped completely.
It is suggested that you come in periodically for a follow-up oral food challenge to confirm that you have achieved sustained unresponsiveness to the allergen.