Those who suffer from peanut allergies know how stressful it can be to eat outside the home or even to travel in some cases. For many, exposure to even trace amounts of peanuts in baked goods or other foods via cross contamination or even airborne particles can result in a severe and sometimes life-threatening allergic reaction possibly requiring hospitalization. The good news is: Relief could be on the way.
Scientists are studying many potential treatments that could lessen the severity of these reactions. One particular treatment, though not a cure for peanut allergies, is designed to allow allergy sufferers to tolerate small amounts of peanuts. In short, the goal is to eliminate potentially deadly reactions providing relief for allergy sufferers—and their parents.
In one study*, 372 children age 4-17 who had a known peanut allergy were given peanut protein every day for sixth months, starting with minute amounts and increasing daily. For the next six months, they received a daily “maintenance dose,” equivalent to one peanut.
This type of treatment, known as oral immunotherapy, is designed to build up the immune system’s tolerance to an allergen.
After one year, more than two-thirds of the children were able to consume 600 milligrams of peanut protein — about two peanuts — and exhibited “no more than mild symptoms.”
By contrast, only 4 percent of the 124 children in the placebo group (who had taken non-peanut powder throughout the study) were able to tolerate the same amount of peanut protein.
While some of the results seem promising, not all of the results were as positive. Most of the children experienced some sort of adverse reactions during the study including gastrointestinal pain, vomiting, nausea, itchy skin, coughing, and throat irritation, and some even dropped out of the study.
Multiple treatments for dangerous and deadly food allergies remain in development, and hopefully, soon allergy sufferers will have more options than staying home or carrying two EpiPens whenever they go out in public. *The complete results of the study were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Until we have a permanent solution to peanut allergies, if you’re in the South Florida area, you can contact Broward Sinus and Allergy Center to help you get relief from your allergies.