Whether or not a food reaction is classified as an allergy or intolerance, the best way to treat is to strictly avoid the food(s) causing the symptoms. With certain food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance, reactions are often worse if large amounts of the foods are eaten, but small amounts may be tolerated.
However, if a patient has been diagnosed with a food allergy, even very small amounts of these foods can cause a life threatening reaction, called anaphylaxis. Therefore, strict avoidance is recommended.
- For patients who have a definite food allergy, it is best to carry epinephrine, especially when eating away from home.
- Patients should be educated as to how and when to use epinephrine.
- Patients should be very comfortable requesting information about food ingredients when dining out, and should read food labels thoroughly.
***In addition to avoidance and routinely carrying epinephrine for the management of food allergy, AAWM patients are now able to undergo Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for peanut, cashew and pistachio, egg, and limited other foods in our office. Like allergen immunotherapy (AI) for nasal allergies, OIT is a process by which the immune system is desensitized to allergens. Unlike AI, which is achieved through injections or drops, OIT is designed to involve actual ingestion of allergic trigger foods. Desensitization is achieved by ingesting the allergen in initially very small doses in the office, building to a dose that will allow for a significant reduction in the risk for severe reaction (anaphylaxis). The goal is to reach a dose that will allow for enough tolerance that a previous allergic trigger may become a normal part of the diet.