ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s some good news for people with life-threatening food allergies in New Mexico. Patients who are being seen for food allergies have the opportunity to undergo oral immunotherapy treatment in Albuquerque.
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“Our journey started when she was about 18 months old. I had made something with cashews and she started getting a little rash around her face and we’re like this probably isn’t right,” Jamie Eads, mother of an Aspire Program patient.
Eads took her daughter to an allergy and sinus clinic for a diagnosis and treatment. OIT is the process of re-training the immune system to recognize the proteins as benign. Patients are exposed to the problem food in small amounts. Until now, patients often had to travel out of state to receive treatment.
Aspire Allergy & Sinus clinic now offers treatment in Albuquerque. “The first visit they’re here for about six to eight hours and we are slowly increasing that dose and then after that every week they come back in and we increase the dose slightly which then they’ll eat every day for that next week,” said Dr. Richard Wachs, medical director at Aspire Allergy & Sinus.
Once treatments are complete, patients continue taking a daily dose as well as routine checkups to track their progress. Experts do say oral immunotherapy does come with risks. “You’re feeding the food that they’re allergic to, there is a risk of a reaction so we do it very carefully and very slowly but the risk is there,” says Dr. Wachs.
Eads says the risk is well worth it. “It’s opened back doors that we thought were shut. We can go out to eat at different restaurants we want to, we can experience different things together that we thought were off the table,” Eads said.
Aspire Allergy & Sinus offers more than just OIT. There are other treatments that reduce the risk if someone is exposed to a food they aren’t supposed to eat, meaning they won’t have the same allergic reaction. For now, the location for this kind of treatment is in Albuquerque but Aspire says they could expand to Santa Fe and other parts of the state.