Published online Dec 28, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i48.7744
Revised: September 28, 2006
Accepted: November 14, 2006
Published online: December 28, 2006
Food allergy is a common and increasing problem worldwide. The newly-found knowledge might provide novel experimental strategies, especially for laboratory diagnosis. Approximately 20% of the population alters their diet for a perceived adverse reaction to food, but the application of double-blind placebo-controlled oral food challenge, the “gold standard” for diagnosis of food allergy, shows that questionnaire-based studies overestimate the prevalence of food allergies. The clinical disorders determined by adverse reactions to food can be classified on the basis of immunologic or nonimmunologic mechanisms and the organ system or systems affected. Diagnosis of food allergy is based on clinical history, skin prick tests, and laboratory tests to detect serum-food specific IgE, elimination diets and challenges. The primary therapy for food allergy is to avoid the responsible food. Antihistamines might partially relieve oral allergy syndrome and IgE-mediated skin symptoms, but they do not block systemic reactions. Systemic corticosteroids are generally effective in treating chronic IgE-mediated disorders. Epinephrine is the mainstay of treatment for anaphylaxis. Experimental therapies for IgE-mediated food allergy have been evaluated, such as humanized IgG anti-IgE antibodies and allergen specific immunotherapy.