BLOG: Purposeful Homemaking–Using Oral Immunotherapy to “Cure” Our Son’s Peanut Allergy, by Becky

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imageThere are over 50 OIT family blogs published in our Research & Learn library. They contain the journey of that family in OIT–some are in clinical trials, and others are in private practice with board-certified allergists. All the blogs are fascinating to read, full of wisdom and knowledge unique to that family’s journey.

Many families have common stories of diagnosis of a food allergy, and multiple allergists telling them the dire news that “quite likely he will react severely if he ever ingests peanut.” As a parent, there is no way to hear that news and have fear created in you. When doctors reinforce that there is no treatment and you must do everything in your power to avoid even trace amounts of peanuts. Becky’s story here is very typical–she found out about OIT by chance. We should be hearing about oral immunotherapy from our allergists, and they should be more pro-active about leading us to get second opinions from experts who have had great success. Hopefully some day, finding out about OIT won’t be a “random” event. They were lucky to have found Dr. Mayer for their son.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Using Oral Immunotherapy to “Cure” Our Son’s Peanut Allergy

Last week we started Oral Immunotherapy for our son’s peanut allergy and I thought it might be helpful to another mom who might be out there Googling “how to cure my child’s peanut allergy” if I shared our experience with you.

Here’s Our Story

When our little boy was two, we found out that he did indeed have a peanut allergy. I had suspected for awhile that he may have and because of that, had never let him have peanut.

After a reaction to almonds and almond butter, I scheduled an appointment with the allergy doctor where it was confirmed that he was also allergic to peanuts (as well as a few other foods).

His first reaction to peanuts was when he was 9 months old and accidentally touched his cousin’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Thankfully his reaction was mild and he only broke out in hives around his mouth. We were on a family vacation with my husband’s family and were out in the middle of nowhere so looking back, I thank God for protecting our son.

His second reaction was at a wedding when he ate a cracker. We had just had him tested for peanut and almond allergy and I was nervous to let him eat anything and unfortunately settled on a cracker. Bad choice on my part. He was in his booster seat when he started making an odd coughing sound and started panicking. This immediately alarmed me. I got him out of his seat and away from the crowd and then he started getting hives around his mouth.

I had that sick feeling in my stomach that somehow, of all the things I could have chosen, I picked the one that had peanut in it. My husband went down to the kitchen and found out the cracker had peanut oil. I felt horrible. I learned then that I had better be careful about giving foods to our son if I had not read the label.

The third reaction was last Easter when we went to my husband’s grandma’s house. There were peanut M&M’s on the table where we were sitting and, while I felt nervous, I didn’t want to overreact and make a big deal about them being there. I figured that since he wasn’t touching them or eating them, he would be fine. And yet, within 15 minutes he broke out in hives. I quickly got the peanut M&M’s out of the room and after about 20 minutes the hives went away.

As you can see, as hard as I have tried, our son has still had 3 reactions in public and has never even actually eaten a peanut.

Why We Chose Oral Immunotherapy

We have had two allergy doctors tell us that our son is highly allergic to peanuts and that it is quite likely he will react severely if he ever ingests peanut. (Not exactly what any mother wants to hear is it?)

Because of that, we were recently informed to carry, not one, but two epi pens with us at all times because chances are good he will need a second injection for a reaction. (Just thinking about those scary big needles being jammed into my son’s thigh is enough to make me feel weak kneed. I am not nurse material in case you were wondering.)

I have to admit, prior to this, I wasn’t the most vigilant mother about possible peanut exposure. Sure, I stayed away from the obvious, but prior to his last two appointments I kept hoping and praying he would outgrow the allergy and I really wasn’t stressed about accidental exposure at potlucks and birthday parties.

It is definitely a concern now. His recent allergy tests (prick test and blood work) show us that he is allergic to one of the two more severe peanut proteins. There are actually several peanut proteins that can cause problems, but he is allergic to only one of the them.

Of course, ever since we found out that he was allergic to peanuts (as well as a few other allergens) I began praying for his healing. Nothing is too hard for the God who created the universe out of nothing and I don’t believe peanut allergy is beyond His scope.

However, sometimes God chooses to heal by directing our paths to solutions rather than outright healing. I’m not sure why, but I’m guessing that maybe He has people He wants us to impact.

How We Discovered OIT

We have known about Oral Immunotherapy for probably well over a year now. However, as far as we knew, there were no doctors in our area that did this and it seemed impossible to fly weekly to the one doctor we knew of who was out of state.

But then one day, God providentially had my sister share an article about OIT on Facebook. I “happened” to read the article and at the very end noticed that it was about a family who saw a doctor about 45 minutes away from us.

I was still slightly skeptical and, of course, nervous, but I did mention it to my husband. Probably a month went by before I talked to my husband about it again and he said he thought we should call and at least look into it.

I gave them a call and booked our first appointment. I also joined a Facebook group comprised of people who either currently see our doctor or are considering OIT. That group has been instrumental in giving me the courage to pursue this and reading their success stories is inspirational to say the least.

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