Reviewed by Phillip Waite, Ph.D.
If you suffer from food allergies, you know the hassles of avoiding a certain food all too well. You've spent lots of time reading ingredient labels, asking questions when you go out to eat, and being wary of cross-contamination. Imagine if you could make all these hassles disappear and eat whatever you wanted! This is possible if you receive a groundbreaking new treatment.
How Is It Performed?
The first day of the treatment usually takes 7 to 8 hours, and it's done in a medically supervised setting. During this treatment session, your tolerance level for the allergen is assessed, and this determines the dose of the allergen that you'll take initially.
Then, you'll be given pills to take at home twice a day, and they will contain the highest dosage of the allergen that you're able to tolerate without a reaction. During a series of weekly office visits, you'll receive increases in your dosage. At each visit, you'll wait in the office so your physician can monitor you for signs of an allergic reaction.
If you experience a reaction, you'll be kept at the same dose until you're able to tolerate it without having one. Ultimately, the dosage will be raised to a maintenance dose, and this will give you the ability to eat an entire serving of the food that you were once allergic to.
Is It Safe?
Reports of anaphylaxis are quite rare, but mild allergic reactions are to be expected during treatment.
How Long Does The Treatment Take?
The treatment typically takes between four and six months.
How Long Do The Results Last?
In most cases, the results last for a lifetime, but you'll need to eat some of the food that you were once allergic to every day.
Do Patients Typically Enjoy The Food They Were Once Allergic To?
In most cases, individuals who undergo the treatment have a taste aversion to the former allergen in its pure form but not as an ingredient in other foods.
Does Insurance Cover It?
In many cases, insurance does cover the therapy, but the extent to which it is covered varies greatly from one policy to another. Most policies do cover the first day of treatment, but it varies when it comes to later sessions.
How Much Does It Cost Without Insurance?
The first day of treatment is typically the most expensive, and it generally costs somewhere between 130 and 205 dollars per hour. You'll usually pay around 80 to 130 dollars for each session to increase your dosage.
People Who Have Received The Treatment
A ten year old boy who was allergic to peanuts had a history of severe reactions to the food since he was only two, and these reactions were serious enough to require an Epipen. However, this groundbreaking new treatment cured his allergy in only a few weeks, and he's currently able to eat an entire serving of peanuts with no reaction!
Unfortunately, the treatment isn't 100% effective, and a minority of patients experience serious problems. In fact, an eight year old girl who experienced a severe allergy to milk, tree nuts, eggs, and peanuts went through the therapy, but she experienced repeated reactions to the foods that became increasingly severe with higher dosages and forced her to drop out of the study.
Another patient went through the therapy at age 11, and she had been severely allergic to milk and eggs since infancy. The therapy has allowed her to eat a full serving of them without a reaction, but she still has a taste aversion to the foods unless they are mixed with a food she enjoys.