The staff at New England Food Allergy Treatment Centers are here to answer your questions. Below are the most common questions and answers that surface from patients across all ages, including parents and their children being treated.
Although we do our best to keep the list up to date and accurate, if by chance you don’t find what you’re looking for don’t hesitate to contact us, as the primary reason we’re here is to serve you.
1) How long will the process take?
The first day procedure will take about 5-6 hours. The time to reach the top maintenance is about 10-12 months, depending on any symptoms during the build-up dosing.
2) What age does my child need to be to participate?
We are enrolling patients at 12 months and older.
3) What foods are available for OIT?
Peanut, Milk, Egg, Cashew, Walnut, Almond, Hazelnut, and Sesame.
4) Can OIT be done for more than 1 food at a time?
Yes, we offer Multi-Food OIT. We may combine 2 foods for OIT with peanut, tree nuts, and sesame. Milk and Egg are done individually. OIT treatment plans are individualized.
5) Should routine allergy medications be stopped before the first day procedure?
No, it is not necessary.
6) What is the timeline for the months after the first day?
Exactly how it goes, depends on each individual child/adult. Patients will come in every two weeks for buildup-dosing. If they are having any symptoms, we may not increase the dose, or even decrease until better tolerated.
7) What are the most common symptoms during build-up?
By far, gastrointestinal symptoms are most common. Upset stomach, nausea and less frequently, vomiting. Also, patients may complain of an itchy throat after their dose.
8) How often can the dose be increased?
The interval between dose increases is a minimum of fourteen days.
9) What should be eaten before dosing?
It is important to consume a largely carbohydrate meal before doses are given, either at the Center or at home. Suggestions of foods to eat/bring on the morning of your initial day of desensitization include bagels, waffles, pancakes, cereal, and breakfast sandwiches.
10) What time of day should home doses be given?
It does not matter what time of day the peanut dose is given as long as it is taken with a meal and there is a 2 hour observation period without exertion after the dose is given.
11) What precautions should be taken dosing?
Avoiding exercising or hot showers just prior and, more importantly, after the dose is given is imperative. The patient should wait at least 2 hours after dosing before exercising. Also, if the patient has a febrile illness, we ask that the home dose be held during the illness. Allergic reactions can more commonly occur under these circumstances.
12) How many days can doses be skipped at home and resumed safely afterwards?
Doses can be held at home for up to 2-3 days after which dosing can be resumed. If doses need to be held any longer than 3 days, please contact the Center for advice on how to proceed. We may require you to come into the Center to receive the next dose.
13) What about home dosing on the day of the office visit for dose increase?
The dose should not be given at home that day. NEVER increase the dose on your own at home.
14) If there is a reaction at home, what should I do?
Treat the reaction the same way you would any food reaction; antihistamine if there are mild symptoms (slight rash, itchy mouth or throat, a stomach ache). Give epinephrine (Epi-Pen or Auvi-Q) if there are other symptoms of anaphylaxis, (or above symptoms appear to be progressing. Call us after the appropriate immediate intervention. We will give instructions on future dosing.
15) At what point will we buy our own food?
Initially all peanut/tree nut/sesame doses will be measured and provided for the patient. When the peanut/tree nut/sesame patients have graduated from measured flour to actual nuts/sesame the patients will provide the nuts/sesame for home dosing. Patients going through egg or milk desensitization will bring milk or liquid egg white to their visits.
16) What if I need additional doses and I am out of town?
Call as soon as you know you need more. You must be able to tell us what the current dose is. The patient is responsible for shipping fees. This fee cannot be charged to your insurance.
17) What is the goal of this process?
The goal of therapy is to desensitize patients to the allergen they are allergic to. That means creating a safety net if there is an accidental ingestion. Safety is our number one concern. We have shown how oral immunotherapy improves quality of life in those treated patients and their families.
18) What happens when I get to maintenance?
Every OIT food has a defined maintenance dose that will continue to be taken daily at home.
19) What is the follow up schedule when the maintenance food is being eaten?
When the maintenance dose has been reached, there should be follow up appointments scheduled at 6 months, 12 months than yearly.
20) What is the success rate in desensitizing patients?
We have been able to desensitize greater than 85% to 90% of patients who enroll in our programs.
21) What is the cost for the procedure?
Most commercial insurances cover the procedures for desensitization. Patients are responsible for co-pays and deductibles just as they are at any physician’s office.