Food Allergy (cont.)

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Are allergy shots effective in preventing or decreasing food allergy?

Allergy shots, a form of treatment known as immunotherapy, involve injecting small quantities of substances to which the patient is allergic. The shots are given regularly for a long time with the aim of desensitizing the patient or getting the patient to tolerate the allergen without developing symptoms. This type of therapy is effective in controlling symptoms of allergies related to hay fever, indoor allergens, and insect stings. Researchers, however, have not yet proven that these shots can prevent any allergic reactions to food.

Summary

Food allergy is caused by immune reactions to foods, sometimes in individuals or families predisposed to allergies. A number of foods, especially shellfish, milk, eggs, peanuts, and fruit can cause allergic reactions (notably hives, asthma, abdominal symptoms, lightheadedness, and anaphylaxis) in adults or children. When a food allergy is suspected, a medical evaluation is the key to proper management.

It is important to distinguish a true food allergy from other abnormal responses to food, that is, food intolerances, which actually are far more common than food allergy. Once the diagnosis of food allergy is made (primarily by the medical history) and the allergen is identified (usually by skin tests), the treatment basically is to avoid the offending food. People with food allergies should work with their physicians and become knowledgeable about allergies and how they are diagnosed and treated.

Medically reviewed by Michael Manning, MD; American Board of Allergy & Immunology

REFERENCES:

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. <http://www.foodallergy.org/>.

Sicherer, Scott H. "Food Allergies." Medscape.com. Mar. 17, 2011. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/135959-overview>.

U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "Food Allergy." May 3, 2010. <http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/foodallergy/Pages/default.aspx>.

Young, E., M.D. Stoneham, A. Petruckevitch, J. Barton, and R. Rona. "A Population Study of Food Intolerance." Lancet 343.8906 May 7, 1994: 1127-1130.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/24/2014

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Food Allergy - Describe Your Experience Question: Please describe your experience with food allergy.
Food Allergy - Symptoms Question: What are the symptoms of your food allergy?
Food Allergy - Allergy Shots Question: Please discuss your experience with allergy shots in preventing or decreasing food allergies.
Food Allergy - Common Foods Question: What foods are you allergic to? Please share what happens when you eat the food and how you avoid it.
Food Allergy - Diagnosis Question: What types of tests and exams led to a food allergy diagnosis?
Food Allergy - Treatment Question: Do you receive medical treatment for your food allergy or do you avoid the food? Please discuss your experience.

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