Food Allergy

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Food Allergy Triggers & Where They Hide

Quick GuideAllergy List: Watch Out for the Most Common Food Allergies

Allergy List: Watch Out for the Most Common Food Allergies

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.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for food allergy?

As described above, avoidance of the trigger food is the primary treatment for food allergy. The outlook is excellent for those who are able to avoid consuming the allergen and who remain prepared to treat a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis. There are no long-term complications associated with food allergy, other than the risk for severe reactions.

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.

REFERENCE:

Sicherer, S. H., et al. “Food Allergies.” Medscape. 27 Jul 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/8/2015

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