People with food allergies often live a life that’s difficult, one of isolation and fear, but Dr. Douglas Jones at Tanner Clinic in Layton is giving them hope.
“It’s truly life-changing. I have people coming from all over the world to get treatment,” Jones said. “We’ll soon have about 14 families from Australia moving to Utah temporarily for six to eight months to get treated.”
The treatment is called food oral immunotherapy and is a process where Dr. Jones and his team start with microscopic amounts of the food that the patient is allergic to and gradually increase the amount they expose to the patient. Near the end of the program, the patient can usually eat what they were once allergic to in unlimited quantities.
The treatment, which must be done under the careful supervision of Dr. Jones and his team, takes six to seven months to complete. As of March 2018, more than 500 patients have graduated from the program.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies affect 4 percent to 6 percent of the population. A food allergy occurs when the body has a specific and reproducible immune response to certain foods. The body’s immune response can be severe and life-threatening, such as anaphylaxis.
Although the immune system normally protects people from germs, in people with food allergies, the immune system mistakenly responds to food as if it were harmful.
Eight foods or food groups account for 90 percent of serious allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts and tree nuts.
“When you’re truly allergic to a food and it can be life-threatening, it can be devastating,” Dr. Jones said. “It’s scary, anxiety-provoking. There are a lot of psycho-social issues that go with it.”
Many social events — like birthday parties, holidays or even just going to the movies — are centered around food, making those with food allergies less likely to attend. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
For more information about the program, contact Jones at 801-773-4865 or visit facebook.com/RockyMountainAllergy to see if his program is right for you.