WHAT IS A FOOD ALLERGY?
Food allergies are caused by an abnormal immune system reaction after the ingestion of specific food triggers. Up to 6 percent of adults and 8 percent of children/infants have food allergies, and the prevalence has increased over the past couple of decades. The most common food allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, wheat and soy.
Symptoms of food allergies can include hives, swelling, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, swollen airways, difficulty breathing, wheezing and a drop in blood pressure. A severe allergy reaction involving multiple parts of the body is called “anaphylaxis,” which can be life-threatening and requires prompt treatment with epinephrine. Food allergy symptoms typically occur within one hour of ingestion, though in rare cases, the reaction may be delayed and occur several hours later. A food allergy occurs every time a triggering food is consumed.
Our specially trained allergists obtain a thorough medical history and perform a physical examination along with preliminary testing to begin the diagnostic process. In many cases, we will perform an oral food challenge, where gradually increasing amounts of suspected foods are fed to a patient over a few hours in a controlled office setting. This is the gold standard for confirming or clearing a food allergy. At the end of the food challenge, our allergist will visit with you to determine next steps in your treatment.
Oral immunotherapy (OIT) is a medical treatment guided by a board-certified allergist with a payoff of lifetime freedom from food fear and stress. The immune system is re-trained to tolerate food proteins/allergens through regular eating of small amounts of food.
Treatment begins with microscopic doses that gradually increase over time. OIT can increase the amount of food that a patient can accidentally eat before having an allergic reaction, and can potentially allow a patient to tolerate a full serving of the food they are allergic to! Premier Allergy & Asthma will be offering OIT as a treatment for food allergy, starting with peanut, very soon!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Living with food allergies is difficult and stressful because of the unknowns: What am I truly allergic to? How do I stay safe with a food allergy? One of our specially trained providers will meet with you to discuss your concerns, perform relevant testing and determine if you or your child is a good candidate for OIT. We will then fully explain the process, so you understand the benefits and likely outcomes of OIT. You can then confidently decide if you OIT is right for you or your child.
Looking for more information? Here’s what you should know about food allergies.