Utah doctor gives hope to allergy sufferers

A lot of people have food allergies. For some, they can mean a life of isolation and a constant worry.

One Utah doctor is making it easier for sufferers to live a normal life.

“Even if she can’t see a glob of peanut butter, if she just touches anywhere remotely where it’s been it can be life-threatening. She can stop breathing,” said Amy Hoyal, mother of Abby Hoyal.

“He had an anaphylactic reaction to some mixed nuts and we had no idea. As we were driving him to the urgent care, he stopped breathing in our car,” said Michelle Horne, mother of Ethan Horne.

Abby Hoyal and Ethan Horne have always been allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. This meant worrying about life-threatening situations on a daily basis.

According to foodallergy.org, 15 million Americans have a food allergy, that’s one in 13 children in the United States and 70,000 Utah children.

Staying away from the foods that can harm also means a life of isolation for many. Ethan’s mom remembers how her son hate school because of it.

“He was sitting at his own table for every snack time because of it. Regardless if there was peanut butter involved in it or not. The teacher would be afraid to give him certain snacks and so he would come home home and he would cry that he wouldn’t want to go back to school,” said Horne.

But now one Utah doctor is offering hope to thousands of kids. Dr. Douglas Jones with Rocky Mountain Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology knows allergies. He runs a one-of-a-kind treatment program that helps patients live without fear and isolation.

“We want to give people freedom back. Within six months we can take somebody who would have a life threatening reaction to milk, eggs or peanuts or wheat or soy. We can take them from a situation that can be life-threatening to them to where now they can consume it without any restrictions,” said Jones.

So how does Dr. Jones do it? By prescribing the very foods that make them sick.

“We start out with a very dilute dose of whatever they’re allergic to, and at a very deliberate calculated schedule, we slowly increase that dose over time,” said Jones.

Jones say through this gradual introduction, the body develops a nature tolerance to the food that cause the allergic reaction. At first, Ethan’s mom was terrified of this prescription.

“When you’ve seen your child stop breathing because they ate that peanut or they ate that cashew, giving it to them on purpose is very scary,” said Horne.

Abby is now two months into her 6 month therapy program and she already feels like a different kid.

“If my friends eat a peanut butter sandwich I’m not as afraid that I’m gonna have a problem. I’m not as afraid. I like the freedom, the anxiety has changed for me. I’m not as afraid,” said Abby..

Dr. Jones emphasizes that his program of gradual exposure should absolutely not be tried on your own.

“There is no way this should be done at home on your own. It could be extremely dangerous. It could be life-threatening,” said Jones.

But under the supervision of Dr. Jones, Abby and Ethan and so many others are no longer living with the fear and isolation that comes with food allergies.

“I never thought there would be something like this. I’m so grateful that there is,” said Horne.

Making life normal for kids, that’s what we call Good4Utah.

If you’d like to learn more, Rocky Mountain Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology is holding free allergy treatment seminars:

Tues. May 5
Salt Lake Community College
RockyMountainAllergy.com (for more info and how to register)

Wed. May 6
Davis Hospital
RockyMountainAllergy.com (for more info and how to register)

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