Nearly a third of people living in the U.S. believe they have a food allergy, according to a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association . But only 5% of children and 4% of teens and adults have true food allergies.
Why do many people think they have a food allergy when they don't?
Experts say it’s because people don’t understand what really constitutes a food allergy and they often misuse the term.
“Unfortunately, the term ‘allergy’ is sometimes used by the public...
Oral immunotherapy is a way to get your body used to an allergen -- like pet dander or mold -- so it doesn't trigger an allergic reaction.
Here's how oral immunotherapy can help.
First, your doctor needs to do allergy testing to find out what's triggering your allergies.
Once you know the allergen, your doctor will give you a tiny dose of it as a drop or tablet. You let it sit under your tongue and then swallow it.
Because the dose is so small, your body won't react.
Your doctor will keep giving you doses, at first several times a week and then maybe once a month, slowly increasing the amount of the allergen so your body gets used to it.
Eventually you should have only very mild symptoms when you’re exposed to the allergen. Some people may not have any symptoms anymore.
Oral immunotherapy works the same way that allergy shots do, except it:
Doesn't require shots. This could make a difference for many people, especially children.
Is easier. Usually you can do it at home.
Has lower risks. Allergy drops or tablets seem to have a lower risk of serious allergic reactions. Common side effects include sore throat, swollen tongue, and itchy lips, tongue, and mouth.
Can I Get Oral Immunotherapy?
If you're interested in oral immunotherapy, talk to your doctor. The prescription tablets, called Grastek, Ragwitek, and Oralair, are FDA approved to treat hay fever. Drops may cover a broader range of allergies.