Food allergy is a common condition where a person develops an abnormal immune response to certain foods. The most common food allergens include milk, egg, peanut, soy, wheat, tree nuts and seafood although other foods can cause allergy as well. The most recognized form of food allergy is anaphylaxis.
This is a life-threatening condition that can result in hives, swelling, throat closure, asthma, vomiting and in severe cases death. Eosinophilic esophagitis is another type of food allergy that causes esophageal inflammation resulting in trouble swallowing food, vomiting and weight loss.
Food allergy evaluation involves skin and blood testing to a variety of foods. The size of the reaction helps to determine if the patient is allergic.
Treatment for food allergy involves avoidance of allergic foods. There are resources available for patients that help guide necessary dietary changes. The treatment for anaphylaxis is injectable epinephrine to help reverse the symptoms of an allergic reaction. The patient should also be seen in the emergency room for further evaluation.
A food challenge can sometimes be performed to determine whether the food is able to be tolerated. A food challenge involves administering the food gradually over a few hours while under observation for symptoms.