Prem Menon, M.D. Vimla Menon, M.D.
Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Center
Food allergy is an adverse reaction to an otherwise harmless food or food component that involves the bodyís immune system. Approximately 12 million Americans suffer from food allergy, of them 3 million (one in thirteen) are children.
Food intolerance is metabolic, not immunologic.
Oral Allergy Syndrome in pollen allergic individuals is due to cross reacting proteins in the pollens and raw fruits and vegetables.
Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) in children is a non-IgE-mediated reaction to food protein that occurs in the gastrointestinal system, typically during the first year of life
Food poisoning can mimic an allergic reaction. For example, in SCOMBROID FISH POISONING, spoiled tuna or other fish contain large amounts of histamine produced by contaminating bacteria. When spoiled fish is consumed, symptoms develop that closely resemble an allergic reaction to food.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to food can vary in severity. The symptoms can be mild to very severe. Mild reactions tend to produce symptoms such as itching, hives or rashes. Severe reactions may include the above symptoms and or swelling of the tongue or throat, shortness of breath and drop in blood pressure, multisystem failure leading to potential fatality.
Diagnosis of food allergy is made based on the patientís history of allergic reaction to food(s), skin prick tests, and is almost always confirmed by blood tests such as IgE ImmunoCap RAST or Basophil Activation Test. FOOD COMPONENT PROTEIN testing is available for peanut, milk and egg. The test results are then validated by careful Oral Food Challenge in the allergistís office.
Patients with food allergies must strictly avoid the suspected food and read the ingredients of canned and packaged foods. Caution must be taken while eating out and attending parties. School nurse and cafeteria staff should be notified.
An allergic emergency must be promptly treated with epinephrine auto-injectors and antihistamines. Thirty- percent of the patients may need a second dose of epinephrine.
Food Oral or sublingual Immunotherapy may be available in future.
Viaskin Peanut (DBV technologies) is an epicutaneous peanut desensitization patch. This will soon be approved by the FDA.
It is important to develop a Food Allergy Action Plan. The plan should be WRITTEN, REHEARSED and SHARED with all caregivers.
Always be Prepared: "Epinephrine, Everywhere, Every day." (Anaphylaxis Community Expert Program of the AAN\ ACAAI).
|Donít wait to get a diagnosis;|
Contact us to schedule an appointment.