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.
- 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.
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