My Severely Food Allergic Son’s Story with Allergy Drops

as told by mom, Cindy

Our oldest son, Preston was diagnosed with severe food (milk, egg, banana, peanut, tree nuts, shellfish) and environmental (outdoor molds, outdoor pollens, dust mites, dogs, cats) allergies at one year of age. After eliminating these allergens from his diet and surroundings, the levels continued to grow in number and the severity of his reactions increased. Two local allergists told me that Preston’s allergies were so severe that he probably would not “grow out” of them.

In preschool, I asked the school to provide only “safe” snacks to the entire class and I made every cookie for special holidays during the year. All I could think about was how I couldn’t control the world around Preston forever. I couldn’t fathom letting him go to grade school alone! Furthermore, we were picky about the birthday parties that we attended and excluded ourselves from sports pizza parties or ice cream socials.

We didn’t accept that our son had to live with allergies for the rest of his life. We found Allergy Associates of La Crosse. They provide a treatment for food allergies, have extremely knowledgeable doctors, and more in-depth allergy testing. Together, all of these give us peace of mind. We know that we are doing everything we can to help our kids. We are taking action, treating the allergies rather than just avoiding everything and everyone. We do not believe that “living in a bubble” is a healthy or realistic solution. Here’s our story and we hope that it gives you the confidence that there is a treatment out there to cure allergies so that your children and your family can have the best quality of life possible.

Our life began to change when a friend told us about the only proven treatment of food allergies for severely allergic people. She explained how she treated her food allergies with “drops” 30 years ago at Allergy Associates and saw very positive improvements in her quality of life. Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT) made perfect sense. We’ve learned that the mucosal immune system helps your body tolerate new things, so why not help Preston’s body tolerate the allergens! This is the treatment that I was hoping to find.

Life after three years on drops has been life changing for Preston and for our family. Preston is now in 1st grade. He rides the bus, eats lunch at school—next to his friends eating cheese pizza and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He even eats hot lunch once or twice a month. We are excited to attend birthday parties, though we bring our own pizza without cheese and our own cupcake. And now we eat at restaurants!

Accidents may still occur however. During the first year, if Preston had a reaction it would only be hives or an itchy tongue and after a dose of the “drops,” the reaction went away. During our 2nd year of treatment, Preston accidentally ate cookies made with butter and eggs but there was NO reaction at all. As a precaution, I gave him a dose of “drops” after I saw him eating the cookie. There was no need for Benadryl, Epi-pen or an ER visit like we had experienced in the past—before SLIT.

Most importantly, I believe that Preston feels confident that his allergies are in control and that the drops keep him safe and are making him better. He does not have anxiety when around others eating the things that he cannot eat. And he looks forward to the “food challenge” at Allergy Associates when he can eat a chocolate chip cookie and macaroni and cheese! After that, he’ll be asking for a dog!

We have been quite impressed with the knowledge and experience of the doctors at Allergy Associates. They employ and collaborate with the brightest talent from all over the world. They have been involved in SLIT research for over 45 years. Dr. Mary, and Dr. Theodoropoulos are brilliant and we feel fortunate to have them helping our kids.

At our first appointment, I was nervous to put the actual allergens in my son’s mouth, but after our discussion with Dr. Mary, I felt more comfortable. She was very caring and understood my concerns, for she is a mom who raised a child with food allergies and another with celiac disease. She made me feel like we were in good hands and made my kids feel comfortable as well. They don’t even mind going to their appointments.

I was very impressed with Dr. Mary’s knowledge and confidence based on information gathered throughout our process at the clinic. The process at the clinic is very unique and thorough. First, a meeting with the doctor for health assessment, then we were moved to the skin (intradermal) testing area, and blood testing, drops testing, then the follow-up meeting with the doctor after test results had been reviewed, and finally, prescriptions mixed and picked up. Since the blood test cannot be read immediately, the doctors send a letter with the results explaining recommendations.

At the next appointment, any new allergens will be tested in the office and added to the drops at that time. Our results showed that we could begin using drops containing a few allergens, not all at once. Within the first six months, results showed a decline in allergy levels and a less severe or no reaction with SLIT treatment. Therefore, at our next appointment, we were able to add more allergens into the drops. The test results have proven a consistent decrease in IGE levels over the past 3 1/2 years.

Allergy Associates provides more in-depth allergy testing. My 5-year-old son, Ryan, had a hard, hacking, dry cough that seemed to be seasonal. It hurt his chest and it hurt me to hear it. My first thought was to take him to an allergist, but they found no environmental allergies. I went to the pediatrician who then sent me to a pulmonologist. The pulmonologist assessed Ryan and tested for allergies again. He found no allergies but prescribed a Flovent inhaler to reduce coughing and provide comfort. This seemed to work, however, it was not going away.

Last year, we learned through a reaction that Ryan also has a severe peanut allergy with levels “off the charts.” While testing the food allergies at Allergy Associates, they also screened for environmental allergies and found that ragweed, outdoor molds and dust mites could be causing his coughing. They also noticed and are tracking for possible asthma. Why didn’t anyone else see this? I believe they test differently. Needless to say, Ryan is being treated for all of his allergies with SLIT and we hope to see improvement at our next appointment.

Nathan is our 2-year-old and was tested for the first time and he showed a slight allergy to milk and nothing else. He is eating baked goods containing milk and has also begun SLIT treatment. I am thankful that we can treat this allergy at such a young age and eliminate it before he reaches school age.

We have recommended Allergy Associates and their SLIT treatment to several friends who now travel to La Crosse. Our neighbor and friend bring two of their four children to Allergy Associates. They decided to visit the doctors at Allergy Associates after one of their son’s peanut allergy grew much more severe as he got older. Their other son was pleased to have some answers after years of suffering from eczema, rashes and not understanding the cause. Recently, after only nine months of treatment, test results showed a dramatic improvement! Both boys' test results proved a decline from “severe” to “moderate.” Another friend is relieved that SLIT treatment has reduced their daughter’s “airborne” peanut allergy, and they drive 10 hours from Ohio to visit the doctors at Allergy Associates twice a year. She is no longer considered “airborne” to peanuts and she eats in the lunchroom at school with her friends—confident of her safety.

Allergy Associates has changed our outlook on allergies. I know that our kids will not have to live with life-threatening allergies forever. We confidently choose and recommend Allergy Associates because they provide a treatment for food allergies. The doctors are extremely knowledgeable. They perform more in-depth allergy testing. And ultimately, because we have peace of mind, knowing that we are doing everything we can to help our family have the greatest quality of life possible. And that’s a great feeling!

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