Conquering Multiple Food Allergies
Michael has faced multiple challenges since a very young age, battling asthma, eczema, and food allergies. His food allergy journey began when he was only seven months old. It was a seemingly innocent moment when his mother cooked scrambled eggs for him. As she lifted him to place him in his high chair, she noticed an unusual rash on his back, shaped like a handprint where she had touched him. It was a telltale sign of an allergic reaction to eggs. Concerned, his mother followed the pediatrician’s advice and performed a skin test with a small amount of peanut butter. Unfortunately, the results were the same – Michael had an allergy to peanuts as well.
Determined not to let food allergies control their son’s life, Michael’s parents took a proactive approach and sought help when he was just ten months old. The tests confirmed his peanut and egg allergies. Thankfully, his peanut allergy was not yet severe, and after a series of oral challenges, he was able to tolerate Bamba, a peanut butter snack. However, his egg allergy worsened over time, necessitating oral immunotherapy, which he successfully completed. By the age of three, he had reached a major milestone – he could consume full servings of both peanuts and eggs without any adverse reactions.
At that point, it seemed as though Michael had conquered his food allergies. However, when he was retested, the results revealed a surprising twist. The skin tests for cashew, pistachio, and walnut, which had been negative during infancy, now showed positive reactions. Even more concerning, his blood levels for these tree nuts had skyrocketed by the time he turned five. Instead of being discouraged, Michael’s parents chose to persevere and committed to starting oral immunotherapy for tree nuts.
It has been a lengthy process, spanning several years, but the results have been encouraging. Michael has not experienced any serious adverse reactions during the oral immunotherapy journey. He has reached a point where he can safely consume eight cashews and three walnuts without triggering any allergic responses. Moreover, he can now freely enjoy peanuts and eggs without any concerns. The most promising aspect is that his blood levels have significantly decreased since starting the oral immunotherapy treatment. While a complete cure remains uncertain, there is hope for Michael’s future.
We asked Michael’s mother about her experience with OIT and how they came to find out about it.
How did the diagnosis affect your family?
I never let the allergies affect our family negatively. I became more cautious cooking at home and made sure to wash my hands multiple times when preparing food. I never felt Michael’s allergies were severe, so I did not hold back completely. I kept things that I didn’t want Michael to have out of his reach at home, but I mostly fed him everything I cooked. We were more cautious when ordering food since he had a reaction in the past. When he was young, I felt safer because he was always with me, and I could monitor him. But I worry about him getting older and managing the allergies on his own.
What was your experience with the OIT program?
A family member was doing OIT with Dr. Ho and was very satisfied, so I decided to try it.
Coming every two weeks to do OIT was challenging for me and the family. I found the waiting difficult. I preferred waiting in my car rather than at the office, and I’m glad I had that option. It was easier to occupy Michael in the car.
Since Michael had multiple allergies, he underwent OIT for eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. He never had a problem eating the egg and peanuts, but eating tree nuts was a struggle for him. He didn’t like the texture, so I got creative by putting whipped cream with it.
What would you tell people considering the program?
I would tell anyone considering the program to “Go for it.” It was a big commitment, but it was so worth it. It feels good knowing that as Michael gets older, he can go to birthday parties and not miss gatherings with friends because of allergies. As he becomes a teenager, I feel comfortable knowing that if he kisses a girl who ate peanut butter, he will be fine.
I would also highly recommend Dr. Ho to anyone looking for an allergist. Dr. Ho treats Michael for his asthma too. His knowledge and communication are the best. I have total trust in him!