Take the Worry Out of Your Food Allergy
A food allergy results from an abnormal immune response to the ingestion of a specific food. Food allergens—the portions of the food that cause the allergic reaction—are usually proteins. Eight foods including cow’s milk, egg, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, account for 90 percent of food allergies. The overall prevalence of food allergies in adults is estimated to be four percent and eight percent of children suffer food allergies.
Food allergies can cause individuals and their families great concern. The physicians of Allergy & Asthma Specialists offer procedures to confirm the allergy, determine the severity of the allergy and develop a treatment plan that will help ease the anxiety of food allergies.
Some will experience resolution of a food allergy during childhood or adolescence, while others persist with life-long allergies. Resolution is more likely with cow’s milk, egg, soy and wheat, and less so for peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
An oral food challenge is a medical procedure used to definitively show whether an ingested food produces allergic symptoms. Food challenges are useful in cases when the medical history and other allergy tests (skin and blood tests) indicate the patient’s allergy may be resolved. Food challenges consist of giving small doses of the food in gradually increasing amounts. After each dose is administered the patient is assessed for signs and symptoms of a reaction with particular attention to vital signs, skin, mucous membranes and lungs. Challenges are performed in a closely monitored medical setting.
The benefits of undergoing an oral food challenge include the nutritional and social benefits of expanding the diet if the food is tolerated without symptoms. However, even if the food triggers a reaction, there is a benefit in confirming that the food allergy continues to be a problem and reaffirms the need for avoidance.
For individuals who continue to be allergic to foods, the physicians of Allergy & Asthma Specialists offer food sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) to lessen the chance of a serious allergic reaction. A dosage of the food extract is placed under the patient's tongue, held there for 2 minutes, and then swallowed. Over time, the dose concentration is gradually increased so the patient’s immune system learns to tolerate the food, in case of an accidental exposure, with a decreased likelihood for a serious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. Food SLIT is NOT a cure for food allergy. However, studies of SLIT for foods show that SLIT can significantly increase the amount of food a patient can tolerate without having an allergic reaction. Peanut SLIT is currently offered to patients with milk and egg SLIT available soon.
The board certified allergists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists are specially trained and have extensive experience in evaluating patient concerns regarding food allergies. Known in the region as caring for the most high risk food allergic patients, the allergists of A&AS regularly supervise food allergy testing and oral food challenges.
To schedule a visit with the board certified allergists/immunologists of A&AS at one of the eight convenient locations, call 1-800-86COUGH, extension 2, or schedule online.