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Food Allergies

How Is Food Allergy Treated?

Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 15:45

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Once an allergy is diagnosed, strict avoidance of the offending food (or foods) is the only proven method of managing the allergy. There is no medical cure for food allergy. However, within the next few years there will be safe and effective vaccines for food allergies.

By strictly avoiding the food for one or two years, approximately one-third of children and adults can lose their sensitivity to that food. But few children or adults outgrow their allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish.

Need To Know:

According to allergists, if you have had a severe reaction to a food, you should never eat it again. The chances are more likely than not that you will not lose your sensitivity to that food. Whether the vaccines that are being developed will allow you to eat forbidden foods will have to be determined by careful and continuous studies.

Although there are no medications currently available to treat food allergies, there are drugs on the market to treat symptoms of food allergies. The proper treatment depends on the severity of the allergic reaction.

  • Antihistamines can help control mild reactions. These drugs have side effects, however. Over-the-counter antihistamines cause drowsiness. Your doctor can prescribe an antihistamine that will not make you sleepy.
  • Asthma medication can be useful for people who wheeze during an allergic reaction. In rare instances, food allergies may bring on an asthma attack. These attacks may be very severe.
  • Epinephrine is used to treat anaphylaxis, a life-threatening complication of food allergy. Doctors advise people with severe food allergies always to carry a self-injecting device loaded with epinephrine or a kit containing a needle and syringe and to inject themselves at the first sign or symptoms.

How-To Information:

Epinephrine usually stops an anaphylactic attack. However, a person who is having an anaphylaxis reaction also needs to seek medical attention immediately, because the problem may suddenly worsen even after treatment with epinephrine.

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Tell the dispatcher that you are having a severe allergic reaction and the emergency response team should bring more epinephrine.
  • You should travel by ambulance to the nearest hospital.


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