HomeAsk the dietitian: Addressing anxiety and fear during oral immunotherapy (OIT)

Ask the dietitian: Addressing anxiety and fear during oral immunotherapy (OIT)

October 9, 2020

Mun Cho RD
Mun Cho, RD

In this series, we ask dietitians across Canada to answer your questions on nutrition and dietary support. We recently spoke with Mun Cho, a registered dietitian and food allergy mom of two based in Ontario.

This month, Mun answers a question on reducing anxiety and fear during OIT.

How can a dietitian help address the anxiety and fear of deliberately eating one’s food allergen during OIT?

With OIT, small amounts of a food allergen are given in gradually increasing doses until a patient is able to eat a certain amount of it without having a reaction, so long as they are on this treatment. This therapy is a huge paradigm shift for families, and parents can find it distressing to purposely expose their child to the food they’ve been strictly avoiding.

A dietitian can lend support by increasing a family’s confidence in implementing the plans set by their allergist. They can:

  • Discuss the best time of the day to dose given the family’s schedule
  • Talk about steps to minimize dosing errors
  • Suggest ways to address “dosing fatigue” (i.e. child gets tired of taking their OIT dose).

For younger children, it may be helpful to refer to their food allergen dosing as a “medication”. By doing so, families can reinforce that they still have to avoid the allergen and take the medication based on their allergist’s advice. For older children with more awareness, explain the benefits of undergoing OIT, and that there’s a plan to follow in case a reaction takes place. Families need to remember that OIT is more of a calculated risk that they are taking in comparison to an accidental exposure, which can happen when parents may not be present.

More information about OIT

Happy young woman and her cute son looking at doctor and listening to his recommendations

Find out more information about OIT and learn about OIT dosing during COVID-19.

Role of a dietitian

Read Mun’s last article on the role of a dietitian, how they can help you, and how to stay healthy and eat well during the pandemic.

Food sensitivities and intolerances

Learn about food sensitivities and intolerances in our article with dietitian Amy Chow.

Find a dietitian near you

Looking for a dietitian? Visit the Dietitians of Canada’s website to find one near you.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask a dietitian in the months to come? If so, please send it along to us at info@foodallergycanada.ca.

Please note: The dietitians featured in this series answer questions on general topics, please talk to your doctor if you have questions about your own health or the health of your child.

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