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CoxHealth Offers Treatment Building Tolerance to Allergenic Foods



CoxHealth is offering a treatment to help people with food allergies build a tolerance to those foods.

Some people with allergies to peanuts may soon be able to enjoy classic snacks previously off limits to them, like PB & J and Ants on a Log, thanks to CoxHealth’s new oral immunotherapy treatment. 

Michelle Dickens, nurse practitioner in Cox’s allergy department, says the treatment works by “microdosing” the allergen multiple times a day to get a patient’s body used to it. 

“The first dose is the equivalent of about 1/125,000th of a peanut, so it’s a very, very tiny dose,” Dickens told KSMU. 

Every week or so, supervisors raise the maximum dose to keep building the patient’s tolerance to the food. The goal is for patients to eventually be able eat the food normally, without having an allergic reaction. 

Before now, patients with allergies had to travel to Kansas City or Little Rock for this kind of treatment. 

Dickens warns the treatment is not a cure for allergies.

CoxHealth is currently providing oral immunotherapy for peanuts and tree nuts but hopes to add milk and egg allergy treatments in the future. The treatment is most effective in children, but has been known to help adults, too.

Josh Conaway is a graduate of Missouri State University with a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in International Affairs. He works as a news reporter and announcer at KSMU. His favorite part of the job is exploring the rich diversity of the Ozarks and meeting people with interesting stories to share. He has a passion for history and running.