HOUSTON – Six-year-old Jude Myers said he’s ready to eat mashed potatoes and pies on Thanksgiving day.
Not long ago, he wasn’t able to eat anything with even the smallest milk ingredient because of his food allergy.
“He was born with the milk allergy,” Kay Myers, Jude’s mother, said. “He would break out in hives, he would vomit. It was quite an immediate reaction.”
That made every day of his young life difficult.
“You know, we’re looking at labels, we’re looking at menus,” Jude’s dad said. “Bear in mind, he’s not allergy-free, you know, he’s been desensitized to it so we’re still aware of it but now, now you can enjoy all these, these foods that we had to constantly pay attention to and stress out about.”
He became desensitized when they discovered oral immunotherapy (OIT). It’s a treatment that’s only been available at a few Houston-area ENT offices in recent years. Dr. Savannah Sommerhalder from Aspire Allergy and Sinus in Webster, explains how it’s changing her patients’ lives.
“Patients like Jude, are really good candidates for oral immunotherapy,” Dr. Sommerhalder said. “So, for patients who have done well and have graduated their therapy, they’re able to usually tolerate pretty good amounts of the food that they want to have.”
For Jude and his family, it means this Thanksgiving the whole family can share the same meal tomorrow, without worry that it will make him sick and that’s truly something to be thankful for.
Of course, Dr. Sommerhalder warns not to try this at home. Allergists start this with tiny particles of an allergen that you cannot replicate at home and say this therapy needs to be done in a doctor’s office where they have the ability to treat severe, sometimes deadly reactions.
OIT also seems promising in treating sesame, tree nut, peanut and egg allergies. This does not treat people with a shellfish allergy.