Just a couple of decades ago, airlines handed out complimentary packets of peanuts on flights and school children were able to bring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch with little concern. But peanut allergies have grown prevalent, affecting some 400,000 school-aged children in the United States. While it’s not the most common food allergy, symptoms can be deadly.
Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting and cramping, hives or a rash, coughing, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis, or the closing of the throat. In such cases, access to an epinephrine auto injector, or epipen, is vital.
For parents with children who suffer from peanut allergies, just sending kids to school or a friend’s house can be scary. Children can unwittingly consume something containing a nut, or other children might bring something to school, not realizing what it contains. That can also put undue stress on the child, who must always be vigilant—not an easy task for young children.
Rather than living in constant fear, allergies, including those to peanuts, can be managed by the experts at Allergy & Asthma Specialists, where treatment of high risk food allergies, like peanuts, are a specialty. They are the only practice in the region to offer peanut allergy desensitization, which is performed in a controlled environment under the watchful eye of a physician.
Using sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) helps the patient undergo a desensitization process, a natural build up of your immune system to tolerate the allergen and make you less allergic. In the doctor’s office, a patient is given a controlled amount of peanut extract, which is placed under the tongue for two minutes before being swallowed. Patients are carefully observed and kept in the office for one to two hours following, to ensure his or her safety and that no reaction occurs. If the dose proves manageable, the patient is given that dose to take at home for daily use.
Over the course of six to eight months, a physician assesses progress and gradually increases the dose to continue treatment. In doing so, the patient is able to reduce their symptoms by building up a tolerance. Peanut SLIT reduces the risk of serious reactions with accidental exposure to peanuts, and reduces the patient’s and patient’s family’s stress about what they and those around them consume.
There is currently no known cure for peanut allergies, but the positive life altering benefits of reduced reactions is immeasurable. Gaining back a sense of freedom and decreasing stress is invaluable. Allergy & Asthma Specialists’ SLIT does just that for peanut allergy sufferers.
To schedule a visit with the board certified allergists/immunologists of A&AS at one of the eight convenient locations, call 1-800-86COUGH, extension 2. Read more or schedule online at www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com.