Becky Chamberlain holding her son

By Linda Simon

My four year old is Leo has IgE allergies to milk, egg, peas, chickpeas, lentils, nuts (walnut, pecan, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio), sesame, kiwi, fish and crustaceans. He started oral immunotherapy treatment when he was two years old.

The OIT process

We started with baked milk and sesame, and have now completed baked milk (he eats 2g baked milk in a muffin daily) and have started baked egg.

We up-dose every four weeks in the clinic, giving larger amounts of the food he’s allergic to each time.

Deciding to start OIT

For me, I wanted to start as soon as I heard OIT was on offer in London, and I felt excited and optimistic having researched a lot into it. Of course, I also felt apprehensive, as there’s a real chance of an allergic reaction.

As my son started just before his third birthday he wasn’t really aware of what was going on and just accepts it as a normal part of his life. We tell him it’s his medicine and it might help his allergies.

Managing dosing and clinic visits

The picture above shows Leo on the train to London for a clinic visit. The difficulties of OIT include finding time to up-dose (a trip into London every 4 weeks), the expense, and the juggling of doses when Leo has a cold or is over-tired, as you can only skip so many days before having to go down a dose.

The first months were daunting and I was worried I hadn’t made the muffin recipes correctly and would dread each up-dose. With time, however, OIT has become part of our normal life and I have little to no anxiety surrounding it a year on.

We’ve had a few minor reactions (a few hives, stomach ache) but thankfully it has been going very smoothly.

I recommend OIT to all the allergy parents I know, as I firmly believe it has the potential to work for some, and living with food allergies can be so limiting.

I’m in awe of Leo

Through doing the OIT, I have less anxiety around Leo’s allergies. While he is still highly allergic to many foods, I’m in awe when I see him take his daily tahini dose, and eat his egg and milk muffins. I couldn’t have imagined that this time last year and it gives me more confidence when he’s in social situations. I’m generally less fearful of an accidental exposure.

We try not to let OIT affect our lives negatively and have brought our doses with us on many day trips and even holidays abroad to Ireland and Portugal!

We plan to do OIT for nuts next, and will do as much OIT as is available. It may not be a realistic goal, but I really want to eliminate all of my son’s food allergies and I feel OIT offers the best chance right now.

*OIT should only be carried out under clinical guidance.

Please note, Linda’s story is written in her own words and details her personal experience and opinions. The information above has not been signed-off or reviewed by an allergy clinician.

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