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.
The first day procedure will take about 6-7 hours. The time to reach the top maintenance is about 10-12 months for peanut and tree nuts, depending on any symptoms during the build-up dosing.
For peanut desensitization, we are enrolling patients at 2 years and older. For all other foods, the minimum age for enrollment is 4 years of age.
No, it is not necessary.
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.
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.
The interval between dose increases is a minimum of fourteen days.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The dose should not be given at home that day. NEVER increase the dose on your own at home.
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.
At what point will we buy our own food? Initially all peanut/tree nut doses will be measured and provided for the patient. When the peanut/tree nut patients have graduated from flour to actual nuts the patients will provide the nuts for home dosing. Patients going through egg or milk desensitization will be provided with a muffin recipe to bake and bring to their visits.
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.
Most patients who are desensitized should eventually be able to consume as much peanut as a full serving size portion. We often recommend after at least 1 year on maintenance dose, performing an oral challenge with peanut.
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.
When the maintenance dose has been reached, there should be follow up appointments scheduled at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.
We have been able to desensitize greater than 90% of patients who enroll in our programs.
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.