Approximately 15 million people have food allergies and about 6 million of them are children. Food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system identifies a specific food as a foreign substance and produces an allergy antibody (IgE) to respond to the substance. Compounding this response is the fact that the most common foods people are allergic to, such as peanut, wheat, soy, eggs are frequently in our diet! Food allergies can be mild to severe and in rare cases, life threatening if they stimulate an anaphylactic reaction.
There are two types of food allergies: fixed (immediate response) and cyclic (delayed). Signs and symptoms of food allergies include: itching in mouth, swelling, GI symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea), hives, tightness in the throat and difficulty breathing. Food allergies should be distinguished from intolerances and sensitivities to food (non immune reactions). Diagnosis may involve: extensive history, nutrition evaluation, lab testing, food challenges, elimination diets and skin testing. Food allergies can also be connected to other allergies. There is no known curative treatment for food allergies at present but treatment involves: strict elimination, education (food labels, meal prep, high risk situation avoidance), emergency planning and availability of emergency medications. There is promising new research in this field- sublingual immunotherapy.
In this segment, Dr. Lakshmi Reddy, a local Atlanta physician that is board certified in adult and pediatric allergy, immunology and asthma will discuss the basics of pediatric food allergy signs/symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Listeners can visit: www.reddyallergy.com and www.aaaai.org for more information.
Dr. Lakshmi Reddy
- Medical School at Meharry Medical College
- Residency completed at Washington University in St. Louis
- Fellowship in Allergy and Immunology at Medical College of GA
- Board certified in allergy, immunology and asthma
- In private practice in Johns Creek, GA