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Food Allergy Testing & Food Immunotherapyin San Diego

The Science of Food Allergy

San Diego + Food Allergies Desensitization Experts

Approximately 8 percent of children in the United States suffer from food allergies, and this figure consistently increases each year. For those affected, situations like dining out and attending birthday parties can evoke intense emotions of apprehension and concern.

Treating food allergies has been historically limited to strictly avoiding certain foods and utilizing early rescue medication (such as epinephrine) to address the reactions.

Food responses can range from mild to severe to even life-threatening, sometimes triggered by consuming just a small portion of the food in question. Abstaining from certain foods presents a significant challenge for families, heightening anxiety and profoundly affecting the well-being of both the children and their parents.

Food Immunotherapy (IT) represents a secure and progressively utilized treatment method that can significantly help affected individuals by increasing the anaphylactic threshold and limiting adverse reactions.

Through the administration of minute, gradually escalating doses of a specific food, it becomes possible to preclude or mitigate the intensity of food-related reactions that might arise due to inadvertent contact. In certain cases, food immunotherapy can even facilitate “free eating” or unrestricted consumption of the food, a phenomenon referred to as “sustained unresponsiveness.”

Significantly, food immunotherapy has demonstrated a substantial enhancement in the quality of life, enabling people to “get their lives back.”

Essentially, food immunotherapy fosters food tolerance and mitigates allergic response severity, thus enhancing the outlook and quality of life for both children and their caregivers.

In San Diego, CA, food allergy desensitization specialist and allergist Dr. Brian Modena goes the extra mile to make sure you or your child get the right diagnosis and have every safe option available for treating food allergies.

Why is Food Allergy Testing With an Expert Important?

Anaphylactic food reactions can be severe, life-threatening, and can occur with eating a single bite of food. Meanwhile, food avoidance is difficult for many families, increasing anxiety and strongly impacting the quality of life of a child and their parents.

However, a single positive skin or blood testing does not also mean that a person has a true allergy, or will develop anaphylaxis.

There are many false positives with Food Allergy Testing, especially when the test values are on the lower end of positive, which means the test is positive, but the person or child does not react while or after eating the food. When the diagnosis is not certain, an in-office "open food challenge" (OFC) is a proven safe and structured way to truly determine whether or not you or your child is allergic, i.e., at risk of anaphylactic reactions.

What types of Food Allergy Testing are available?

Our San Diego Food Allergy Testing panels include blood tests, skin prick tests, and open food challenges (OFCs).

  • Food specific immunoglobulin E (sIgE) blood testing. IgE-mediated food allergies cause immediate and sometimes severe allergic (anaphylactic) reactions. sIgE blood testing is a proven method for diagnosing these types of food allergies. sIgE testing is highly sensitive, but has a high rate of "false positives." This testing is performed by a small blood draw.
  • Skin prick tests involve introducing small amounts of allergenic substances under skin using a small plastic lancet, and observing the skin for an immediate allergic reaction. Skin prick test is proven to be safe and highly sensitive. This test is very similar to the sIgE in that it's plagued by a high rate of false positives.
  • An in-office open food challenge (OFC) is a safe and structured way to determine with absolute certainty whether or not you or your child is truly allergic. This procedure involves taking small, but increasing amounts of a particular food in a controlled environment under close supervision in our office. This testing is considered the "gold standard" when determining whether or not a person or child is allergic to a food.
San Diego food allergies young model tasting a strawberry
San Diego food allergies young sibling models

When should I test for Food Allergies?

Anyone who is experiencing unexplained symptoms and allergic reactions while eating, or soon after eating.

  • Skin reactions (itchy skin, hives, flushing, face, hand or feet swelling)
  • Mouth/throat symptoms (itchy or swollen mouth or throat)
  • GI symptoms (abdominal pain, cramping, vomiting)
  • Respiratory reactions (trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing)*
  • Cardiac symptoms (racing heartbeat, feelings of faintness and passing out).

*Respiratory and cardiac symptoms happen with severe reactions.

Food Allergy Testing Results

The timing of results varies depending on the type of test. Skin prick testing results are back in minutes, while blood testing may require up to a week.

Dr. Modena will review the findings and create a personalized treatment plan.

Food Allergy Treatment Options

Historically, managing food allergies has primarily involved strict avoidance of allergenic foods, coupled with the availability of early rescue medication (such as epinephrine) to address anaphylactic reactions. However, over the last few years, techniques and methods have advanced and dramatically changed the treatment of food allergies with the introduction of food immunotherapy.

Food Immunotherapy (IT) is a secure and steadily growing treatment approach that employs the specific allergenic food to desensitize an individual. By administering minuscule, incrementally escalating doses of the allergy-inducing food, it gradually prevents and reduces severity for reactions that might arise from accidental exposures. The gradual increase of the food over time significantly reduces the occurrence of severe reactions associated with food IT.

Remarkably, for some, this therapy can lead to the ability to consume the allergenic food without restrictions, a phenomenon known as 'free eating,' and even achieve “sustained unresponsiveness.” Food IT has a strong track record of substantially enhancing the quality of life and enabling individuals to regain normalcy in their lives.

San Diego food allergies child model holding up food

What is a Food Immunotherapy?

The goal of Food Immunotherapy is to decrease an individual's reactivity to a specific food, a process commonly referred to as “desensitization.” This is achieved by gradually introducing that specific food in extremely small quantities, usually daily, often spanning months or even years.

One such immunotherapy is known as oral immunotherapy (OIT), which involves the daily consumption of incrementally larger quantities of that specific food.

Another type of Food Immunotherapy is sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), where a liquid food extract is placed underneath the tongue for approximately 2 minutes. The SLIT procedure is considered highly safe, with minimal risks for anaphylactic reactions. However, it typically does not lead to the attainment of “sustained unresponsiveness” as often seen in other forms of therapy.

By systematically introducing controlled quantities of the allergenic substance, Food Immunotherapy fosters tolerance and diminishes the intensity of allergic reactions as time progresses. This process alleviates the apprehension and anxiety linked to food allergies, enabling individuals to lead more liberated and satisfying lives.

As awareness of Food Immunotherapy grows for both patients and allergists, it is reshaping the way we manage food allergies.

San Diego food allergies models mother and son eating watermelon

The Food Desensitization Process

It Starts with a Nibble

The BiPP (Bite Protection Program) Procedure

  1. Consultation: Receive a complimentary Educational Consultation with one of our Food IT Specialists.
  2. Assessment: Identify and precisely determine your child's allergens through testing.
  3. Customization: Collaboratively design a personalized treatment plan for desensitization, using successful protocols from rigorous clinical trials nationwide. We utilize evidence-based protocols, mirroring the best practices from leading studies across the country. You will actively participate in selecting the most suitable therapeutic pathway tailored to your child's and your family's needs.
  4. Initiate Treatment: Start the desensitization therapy, which spans 1-4 years, safeguarding children from the effects of accidental food exposure and enhancing their overall quality of life.
  5. Reassessment: Safeguard your child against inadvertent exposures or empower them with food freedom.

What are the benefits of Food Desensitization?

A Taste of Freedom

  • Alleviate apprehension and unease associated with food allergies
  • Increase comprehension and awareness of the condition
  • Elevate the quality of life and reduce concerns for both children and parents
  • Heighten the anaphylactic threshold (referred to as enhanced “bite protection")
  • Empower children and their families
  • Potentially enable a more unconstrained lifestyle
  • Enhance the long-term prognosis of the condition for many
  • Might lead to "unrestricted consumption" and "persistent unresponsiveness
San Diego food allergies model feeding his child food

Who is a good candidate for Food Desensitization?

Ready for More

Food immunotherapy (IT) is suitable for individuals with anaphylactic food allergies, such as those with anaphylactic reactions to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, or soy.

Eligibility for OIT is assessed on a case-by-case basis, considering factors like blood test results (i.e., specific IgE testing), the patient’s age, reaction severity, and the ability to adhere to the protocols.

Why Modena Allergy + Asthma?

Choose Modena Food Allergy Center for a track record of success grounded in scientifically validated studies. We offer a range of evidence-based regimens, avoiding fringe or unproven therapies. With an adverse reaction rate of less than 1%, patient safety is paramount. Our service, which is on-call 24/7, ensures support when you need it. We prioritize affordability, providing financial assistance to eligible families, with no child ever left behind. Our clinic's commitment to straightforward, proven methods has consistently improved the lives of our patients.

We are dedicated to offering evidence-based, safe, and cost-effective treatments, based on scientific research. We maintain transparency, setting mutually agreed goals and realistic expectations. Our commitment is to deliver the utmost personalized care, closely monitored, and with round-the-clock availability for support.

We will not endorse unverified treatments lacking substantial research or acceptance within the broader community of allergists. Our practice avoids administering food immunotherapy if it is unwarranted, such as for treating false-positive tests. Modena is committed to fair pricing for our testing and services and refrain from conducting unnecessary testing unless it genuinely informs or predicts treatment outcomes and prognosis.

Dr. Modena dedicated over a decade to conducting research in machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and genomic research at The Scripps Research Institute and National Jewish Health. In his current work, he leverages machine learning to aid in forecasting food allergy outcomes. However, as he emphasizes, food allergy treatment doesn't require artificial intelligence—just commitment, food, and patience.

At Modena Allergy + Asthma, our mission is to offer scientifically validated, safe, and cost-effective treatments rooted in rigorous research, characterized by clear goals and realistic expectations.

We strongly advise against food immunotherapy treatments that employ unverified therapies lacking substantial research or acceptance within the broader allergy physician community. Food immunotherapy has undergone extensive study over the last 10 to 15 years, with numerous studies highlighting its advantages and constraints. The process is fundamentally straightforward and designed to be easily comprehensible for you and your family.

Food Desensitization Results

Breathe Easier

Through the gradual introduction of controlled amounts of the allergenic substance, Food Immunotherapy (also known as food allergy desensitization) builds tolerance and reduces reaction severity over time. In doing so, it reduces fear and anxiety associated with food allergies, empowering patients to lead more unrestricted and fulfilling lives.

The process can retrain the body not to react as violently to accidental food exposures, giving patients of all ages peace of mind when put in situations where they can’t control what’s on the menu. For some patients, food IT results in the development of prolonged tolerance, something known as "sustained hyperresponsiveness."

Schedule your San Diego Food Allergy Testing consultation with Modena Allergy + Asthma today

Know for Sure

As a child, Dr. Brian Modena had severe asthma and food allergies. He knows what it feels like to suddenly and violently lose control of your ability to breathe or not to be able to eat what everyone else is eating. He made it his life’s mission to care for others and keep them from feeling that feeling. At Modena Allergy + Asthma, Dr. Modena treats patients of all ages with empathy, education, and cutting-edge therapies to help them and their families breathe a little easier. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Modena today to learn how food allergy desensitization and Food Allergy Testing in San Diego could help make your family dinner nights less stressful.

Throughout his life, Dr. Modena has had severe asthma, eczema, food allergies, and EoE. So he is no stranger to allergic diseases, including the experience of anaphylactic food allergies.

With Food Allergy Testing San Diego patients of all ages get treated with empathy, education, and cutting-edge therapies from Dr. Modena to help them and their families breathe a little easier. Recognizing a need to provide scientifically-proven, safe, affordable treatments to all patients with food allergies, Dr. Modena founded the Modena Food Allergy Center and Bite Protection (BiP) Program.

Dr. Modena spent over a decade performing research in machine learning, artificial intelligence, national language processing, and genomics at The Scripps Research Institute and National Jewish Health. Yet, as he states, you don’t need artificial intelligence for food allergy treatment, just discipline, food and patience.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Modena today to learn how we can help make your family dinner nights less stressful.

Food Allergy Testing

Frequently Asked Questions

Food Immunotherapy is progressively gaining recognition as a highly effective approach for managing food allergies, enjoying increasing popularity among both patients and allergists.

When conducted under the guidance of trained and qualified allergists or nurse practitioners, Oral Immunotherapy is considered safe. While anaphylactic reactions are possible, they are infrequent and can often be managed at home with no need for emergency department visits. Instances of children experiencing anaphylactic reactions due to food immunotherapy are rare.

While some patients will reach the point of being able to consume allergenic foods without issues, displaying what is known as “sustained unresponsiveness,” others may experience an increase in their threshold for anaphylactic reactions and a reduction in reaction severity, essentially enhancing “bite protection.”

The cost associated with Food Immunotherapy can fluctuate depending on the individual circumstances and the length of treatment required. For comprehensive information on treatment costs, we will furnish you with detailed pricing during your complimentary consultation.

Typically, insurance providers will not offer coverage for food immunotherapy expenses.

Schedule a consultation today

You don’t have to let allergies, asthma or immune system issues dictate your life. With a specialist like Dr. Brian Modena by your side, you can get back to living your best life.

9850 Genesee Ave Suite 710, La Jolla, CA 92037