Eating should be one of the great simple pleasures of life. Unfortunately, food allergies are becoming an increasingly common problem. Additionally, the reactions can be life-threatening. There are varying types of food reactions, and misconceptions about food allergies are rampant in the public at large.
One common misconception is that developing hives after food ingestion is not serious. In fact, a person who has had hives after food ingestion is at notable risk for a more severe food reaction. Characterizing types of food reactions and specifying the foods of concern is essential. The allergist can also navigate the food allergic individual away from potentially cross-reactive foods and discuss food safety. Identification of food allergens, teaching, setting up networks of support, discussing repercussions of diagnosis, and the use of emergency epinephrine are all cornerstones of food allergy evaluation.
Some food-allergic individuals can lose their food sensitivity over time. An allergist is able to track, identify and confirm the loss of sensitivity in these individuals. Moreover, we often identify individuals who have been needlessly avoiding foods and are able to expand their diets. When there is a strong family history of food allergies, the allergist can provide guidance to the expecting parent. Recent studies have improved our understanding of who is at higher risk. This allows us to identify the patients who appropriately exposure to allergenic foods can be prevent the development of food allergy.
Currently, for the first-time, we have treatments to induce a state of tolerance to foods in patients who have food allergy. This provides protection against severe allergic reactions in accidental food allergen exposures, improving the quality of life and providing piece of mind for families.