Oral Immunotherapy

Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic

Allergists, Asthma Specialists, & Immunologists located in the Pacific Region

For years, there was just one treatment for food allergies: eliminate all traces of the food from your diet. Now that has changed. The exceptional doctors at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic offer oral immunotherapy to effectively treat food allergies. To learn if you’re a good candidate for this innovative treatment, schedule an appointment online or call one of the 13 offices in four Pacific Region states: in Fremont, Oakland, Redwood City, Sunnyvale, San Mateo, and San Leandro, California; Clackamas and Gresham, Oregon; Bellevue, Fishers Landing, Longview, and Salmon Creek, Washington; and Eagle, Idaho.

Oral Immunotherapy Q & A

What is oral immunotherapy?

Oral immunotherapy treats anaphylactic food allergies by reintroducing the food back into your diet in small, incremental amounts. With ongoing exposure to the allergen, your immune system becomes desensitized and stops triggering a significant allergic reaction every time you eat that food. 

After completing oral immunotherapy, you can consume the food you were allergic to without fear of having an anaphylactic reaction.

What food allergies may improve with oral immunotherapy?

The oral immunotherapy program at Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic has helped hundreds of patients successfully deal with food allergies to:

  • Peanuts
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Tree nuts (i.e. cashew, walnut, almond)
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Seeds (i.e. sesame, sunflower, and mustard)
  • Seafood

How does oral immunotherapy work?

To start oral immunotherapy, you consume a very small amount of the allergen in the clinic and then you continue to consume that amount of the allergen every day at home. The dose is slightly increased under medical supervision, and then you can continue consuming that precise amount at home.

You’ll gradually reach a maintenance dose, which is a low dose that’s taken for an extended time. Maintenance dosing helps protect you from unexpected exposure to a large portion of your food allergen. 

For example, if you have a peanut allergy but you can tolerate eating one peanut daily for at least six months, you should be able to tolerate exposure to seven peanuts.

Am I a good candidate for oral immunotherapy?

There are two types of food allergies: IgE-mediated and non-IgE mediated. If you have an IgE-mediated allergy, you experience a quick allergic reaction, typically developing hives, vomiting, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, shortly after consuming the food responsible for your allergy.

If you have a non-IgE-mediated food allergy, symptoms can take hours to appear. This type of allergy typically causes problems like bloating, diarrhea, and nausea.

Oral immunotherapy is primarily used to treat IgE-mediated allergies. Because feedback about symptoms is essential for each patient’s safety during their oral immunotherapy treatment, candidates for oral immunotherapy should be at least 3 years old and able to communicate.

Oral immunotherapy is especially beneficial for patients who are at risk for an anaphylactic reaction. With this treatment, patients have a significantly lower chance of anaphylaxis, giving them more freedom to enjoy a variety of foods without fear.

To learn more about oral immunotherapy, call Columbia Asthma & Allergy Clinic or schedule an appointment online.