One bite of the wrong thing could mean a trip to the hospital. Sublingual immunotherapy can take this element of distress out of the eating process and allow people to safely enjoy more foods.
Mesa, AZ (PRWEB) August 31, 2014
Stuart Agren, M.D., founder of the Family Allergy Clinic in Mesa, Arizona, prescribes sublingual immunotherapy to help his patients struggling with food allergies, which now includes tree nut allergies. Dr. Agren said that it has helped many of his patients safely tolerate more nut-based foods and, in many cases, restored peace of mind.
Nut allergies are no small issue. They can lead to a host of symptoms, including rashes, digestive distress, hay fever, and full-blown anaphylaxis. And while many food allergies are simply outgrown, nut allergies often last a lifetime.
Several years ago, researchers at Duke University performed a groundbreaking study of the effects of sublingual immunotherapy ("SLIT") on patients with peanut allergy. Patients took gradually increasing concentrations of peanut antigen under the tongue. The study showed that SLIT safely induced desensitization to peanuts in a majority of study participants.
"Eating can be a very disconcerting experience for people with severe food allergies," said Dr. Agren. "One bite of the wrong thing could mean a trip to the hospital. Sublingual immunotherapy can take this element of distress out of the eating process and allow people to safely enjoy more foods."
Dr. Agren does not yet treat for peanut allergies because the reactions tend to be so severe, but he does treat about 60 food allergies using sublingual immunotherapy (including wheat, eggs, milk, soy, rice, and a variety of fruits and vegetables).
When people think of nut allergies, they tend to focus on peanuts. While peanuts produce some of the most severe reactions, peanuts aren't really nuts at all but legumes. Common tree nuts include walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, pistachios, pine nuts, and Brazil nuts. Only about 25 to 40 percent of people with tree nut allergies are also allergic to peanuts.
People with tree nut allergies are advised to avoid all nut and peanut products in case of cross-contamination in manufacturing plants where peanuts and tree nuts are processed together. They are also advised to read food packaging carefully to steer clear of nut products and to carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times.
While avoidance has long been the standard advice for people dealing with peanut and tree nut allergies, a treatment known as sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is paving a way for people to build up an immunity to nut-based foods.
SLIT starts with a saline-based serum containing extracts of nut allergens. The serum is taken as under-the-tongue (sublingual) drops that absorb into the bloodstream. As the body is exposed to the allergens in the serum, it can become desensitized to them and stop overreacting to them in ways that lead to troubling symptoms.
More educational material on sublingual immunotherapy can be found online at familyallergyclinic.com. For more information on allergy treatment, visit Family Allergy Clinic online or call 1-480-827-9945.
Family Allergy Clinic
3048 E. Baseline Road, #122
Mesa, AZ 85204