Food allergy

Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology : Official Journal of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Susan Waserman, Wade Watson

Abstract

Food allergy is defined as an adverse immunologic response to a dietary protein. Food-related reactions are associated with a broad array of signs and symptoms that may involve many bodily systems including the skin, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts, and cardiovascular system. Food allergy is a leading cause of anaphylaxis and, therefore, referral to an allergist for appropriate and timely diagnosis and treatment is imperative. Diagnosis involves a careful history and diagnostic tests, such as skin prick testing, serum-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) testing and, if indicated, oral food challenges. Once the diagnosis of food allergy is confirmed, strict elimination of the offending food allergen from the diet is generally necessary. For patients with significant systemic symptoms, the treatment of choice is epinephrine administered by intramuscular injection into the lateral thigh. Although most children "outgrow" allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat, allergies to peanut, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are often lifelong. This article provides an overview of the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, management and prognosis of patients with food allergy.

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