Food allergies are becoming increasingly common, and in many cases, people can’t be sure what foods to avoid. From nuts to dairy, managing food allergies can be a daunting and challenging experience for both adults and children.
For many who suffer from extreme food allergies, the only option is total avoidance and never being exposed to the particular allergen. However, there are some pioneering methods that allow those with extreme food allergies to slowly build tolerance over time with strategic desensitization.
As well as looking at some new techniques, I’ll also discuss the ways you can better identify your allergic response as well as better manage and even prevent severe reactions, especially during accidental exposures to allergens.
What is an Allergy and what causes it?
An allergy is an abnormal reaction of the body to certain foods, substances, or environments. Allergies can range from mild reactions to severe and life-threatening reactions, known as anaphylaxis. While some allergies are caused by triggers outside of the food, such as pollen or animal dander, many food allergies are associated with a person’s genetic makeup and environmental factors.
When a person with a food allergy comes into contact with the allergen (or trigger), their immune system perceives it as a threat and produces chemicals called histamines which result in an allergic reaction. Although any type of food can cause a food allergy, there are eight common allergens — milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy — that account for 90 percent of all reactions in the United States.
These eight foods must be labeled on the packaging so those with allergies can spot them easily when shopping for meals or ingredients. It’s also important to read labels carefully because some manufacturers use different terms for common allergens on their products.
Immunotherapy is a promising therapeutic approach for dealing with food allergies. It involves gradually introducing small amounts of the allergen to the patient in an effort to desensitize them to it over time. This type of therapy can be done in the form of oral immunotherapy, sublingual immunotherapy, or epicutaneous immunotherapy, depending on which technique best suits the patient’s needs.
Oral immunotherapy is administered via drops or capsules containing small doses of the problem food and increased periodically over a period of months or years. Sublingual immunotherapy involves administering drops or tablets containing tiny doses under the tongue at regular intervals where it is absorbed by the body. Epicutaneous immunotherapy introduces increasing concentrations of allergens through patches that are applied directly to the skin until safe levels are reached.
Immunotherapy has been studied extensively and has shown a great success rate for inducing long-term tolerance in patients who have had no relief from previous medical interventions. Studies have shown that immunotherapy can be effective in reducing food allergy symptoms, so it may be an option worth considering depending on your personal health history and needs.
Immunotherapy isn’t right for everyone though – it’s important to discuss this treatment option with your doctor or Philadelphia ENT specialist first so that you can get their approval before trying it out. It typically requires commitment from both patient and doctor as several regular visits will be needed, but it can offer invaluable relief from food allergy symptoms.
Monoclonal antibody therapy
Monoclonal antibody therapy is a promising new therapeutic approach for food allergy patients. Monoclonal antibodies are produced by using genetics to create identical copies of a specific immune system protein. This protein can then bind to the allergens in food and eliminate them from the body.
This therapeutic treatment has many benefits. First, it can provide long-term relief and even complete remission of allergic reactions to certain foods as compared to traditional treatments like allergen avoidance or epinephrine auto-injectors. It can also be tailored to individuals based on their specific needs and genetic makeup, ensuring that they receive maximum benefit from the therapy.
Monoclonal antibody therapy is becoming increasingly popular due to its high efficacy, low side effects, and minimal invasiveness in comparison with other therapies. With further development, this treatment could be an effective way of preventing severe allergic reactions in food allergy patients for years to come.
Microbiome-modulating agents are a newer type of therapeutic approach to dealing with food allergies. These agents work by restoring the microbial balance in the intestine, which plays an important role in regulating immune responses.
By re-balancing, the microbiome, microbiome-modulating agents can improve the body’s tolerance to food allergens, reduce immune hypersensitivity, and decrease overall allergen-mediated symptoms. Studies have also found that microbes can protect against allergens by producing protective molecules, degrading food allergens, and stimulating regulatory cells that induce specific tolerance.
Overall, Microbiome-modulating agents offer promising new strategies for dealing with food allergies. They work to rebalance the intestinal microbiome to reduce allergic reactions and restore natural tolerance to food allergens.
Epinephrine and Emergency Medication
It’s essential to have epinephrine and emergency medication on hand in case of a food allergy reaction. Epinephrine injectors, such as those sold under the brand name EpiPen, are a crucial method of treatment for anaphylaxis—a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. A person experiencing anaphylactic shock should be given epinephrine as soon as possible, with follow-up care from their doctor or healthcare provider.
Your allergist may also prescribe other medications to reduce symptoms associated with food allergies. These can include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and leukotriene receptor antagonists, all of which help control the immune system’s overreaction and reduce inflammation.
In addition to the medicines mentioned above you should also have an Emergency Allergy Action and Management Plan on hand to let medical personnel know what steps and therapies are needed to manage your condition in case of an emergency. By taking these precautionary measures you will be better prepared should any unexpected events occur related to your food allergies.