Colton’s “Food Allergy-Free” Journey

Completing food allergy treatment and finishing food challenges has been life changing for Colton and his family.

After 7-month-old Colton’s first ambulance ride when he ingested a small amount of milk-based formula, his family was told his milk allergy was so high that he would likely have a life-long milk allergy. As months went by, new food reactions (baby jar foods, crescent rolls, etc.) left Colton’s family feeling frustrated and uncertain of what foods were safe.

Getting a food allergy diagnosis

Once Colton’s family heard about Allergy Associates of La Crosse, they called right away for an appointment. At 11 months old, Colton tested positive for 13 different food allergies including milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts and other legumes, beef, and grains.

While the diagnosis was devastating and defeating, it also gave his family peace of mind knowing what foods were not safe for Colton.

Dr. Theodoropoulos celebrates with Colton as he rings the bell to mark graduating from his final Graded Oral Food Challenge.

Colton started sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, immediately. AAOL staff educated the family about what common foods contained his allergens. Consulting with Emily Melby, RDN helped the family make sure Colton’s diet contained all required nutrients when he couldn’t eat common foods.

“It was such a blessing to learn about AAOL during this difficult time in our lives, and we cannot thank AAOL enough for everything they do, because they do it all well,” exclaims Colton’s mom.

Having a thorough diagnosis allowed the family to have conversations with grandparents, daycare providers, etc. so everyone knew what foods were unsafe for Colton to eat or touch, which also triggered reactions.

Advocating for himself

As Colton got older and went to kindergarten, he learned to be his own advocate — saying no to foods/drinks that he didn’t recognize, taking his lunch to school every day, and saying no to pizza, cake, ice cream, etc. at birthday parties — instead bringing his own safe alternatives to eat. “We bought so many items from milk-free chocolate websites and helped supply grandparents with allergy-free chocolates for holidays and get togethers,” reflects his mom. “Like any parents, we would do anything to keep our kids safe, so we figured out how to navigate our life around these food allergies.”

Graded Oral Food Challenges

As Colton’s allergy numbers decreased, the door opened for graded oral food challenges, where Colton was closely monitored as he was exposed to one problem food at a time. Each successful challenge opened up more foods for Colton to eat and provided a little more convenience each time — completing the soy challenge allowed him to eat many soy-based products as milk alternatives, and completing the baked milk challenge meant he could eat foods containing baked milk.

“Again, AAOL was there every step of the way… giving us guidance on what his body was ready for, versus what we needed to wait on, to keep Colton safe from reactions,” says his mom. “And all of this knowledge and guidance worked, as Colton had only a few minor reactions during these last 7 years.”

The past year has been the most exciting for Colton as he passed a peanut challenge, many different milk challenges and finally an egg challenge! Now 8-year-old Colton is food allergy free — a milestone his family never thought they would see.

Reflecting on their journey, Colton’s mom says, “We absolutely love all the doctors and staff we have worked with these past 7 years. The treatment plan, sublingual immunotherapy drops, guidance, and peace of mind they gave us along this food allergy journey is truly a blessing and I cannot thank AAOL enough. I would 100% recommend AAOL to my friends, family and everyone I know.”

Being Allergy-Free

Colton’s family is so proud and excited that he can choose anything he wants to eat without fear of a reaction. It’s heartwarming to see him pick out a donut, cookie, cupcake, etc. from the bakery without asking to see an ingredient list.

“I’m shedding happy tears as I’m throwing away egg-replacers from my refrigerator and signing him up for summer camps without filling out the separate 5-page allergy form. What a long journey the last 7 years have been, but boy, has it also been so rewarding to see him complete/pass all his allergies,” says Colton’s mom.

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