DALLAS (KRLD) – An allergy prevention therapy in Dallas is answering the prayers of a Louisiana family.

(Rachel Rice)

Carl Rice is 3 years old now. He was 18 months old when his family discovered he had a nut allergy. After several visits to allergists, Carl’s family thought that keeping an Epi-Pen with them at all times was going to be the best they could hope for.

“I left the doctor’s office terrified,” says Carl’s mom Rachel Rice. “But we also thought ‘There’s got to be more out there’.”

(Rachel Rice)

After some research, Rachel came across an opportunity in Dallas for oral immunotherapy, or OIT. OIT is a therapy specifically to help with food allergies. Dr. Stacy Silvers at Texan Allergy and Sinus Center has been doing OIT for 6 years. He’s now doing it for Carl.

“It works by slowly introducing the food into the patient’s diet,” says Silvers. “It starts with very low doses, and builds up the amount they can tolerate.”

OIT starts with weekly doctor visits, where the dosage is given. Depending on how well a person reacts, it can take 6 to 9 months worth of dosages to reach a good tolerance. That means Rachel will make the drive with Carl from Louisiana to Dallas once a week.

“It’s stressful and challenging,” she says. “But just knowing this way is available makes it worth it. I won’t have to live in fear, afraid of any food he might touch.”

Dr. Silvers says that OIT is a preventative measure, but he doesn’t call it a cure.

“Even after weekly doctor visits, patients need to keep taking a daily dose of the food to keep protecting their body,” he says. “But if OIT is started early enough in infants and toddlers, it can curb the number of food allergies in this country. Food allergies have reached almost epidemic levels in the last few decades.”

As she holds Carl and watches him carefully to check for any negative reactions, Rachel says she’s just looking ahead to when Carl has built up his tolerance to nuts.

“This will make it where he is free to go anywhere and eat anything,” she says. “We can travel. He can go to camp when he’s older. He can go to birthday parties. I’m really excited that his life will be changed.”