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Feature Article

Food allergy management in adults

Hui Wen Tee, Celia Zubrinich, Robyn O’Hehir, Ian Glaspole

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Abstract

Food allergies cause a significant public and personal health burden. Accurate diagnosis and patient education on avoidance strategies and anaphylaxis treatment are the mainstays of management.

Key Points

  • Food allergy affects an estimated 1 to 3% of adults, and there is evidence that this percentage is increasing.
  • Crustaceans, tree nuts, peanuts and fish are the most common food allergens in adults; along with wheat, soy, fruits, vegetables and seeds, they account for more than 90% of food allergy cases in adults.
  • Diagnosis of food allergy requires a careful history and judicious selection of investigations, with careful consideration of differential diagnoses including food intolerances.
  • The mainstay of therapy is education about allergen avoidance and risk minimisation, including optimised asthma management.
  • The key treatment for food-induced anaphylaxis is prompt administration of adrenaline, usually intramuscularly; patients at risk should carry an anaphylaxis action plan and kit, including an adrenaline autoinjector, at all times.

    Picture credit: © Banko Photographic Ltd/Design Pics/Diomedia.com

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