There is currently no cure for food allergies, and available treatments only ease the symptoms.
Preventing a food allergy reaction
There are no drugs or treatments available that prevent food allergies. If you have food allergies, the only way to avoid allergic reactions is to avoid allergenic foods. After you and your healthcare professional have identified the food(s) to which you are sensitive, you must remove them from your diet.
Read food labels
Read the list of ingredients on the label of each prepared food that you are considering eating. Many allergens, such as peanuts, eggs, and milk, may appear in prepared foods you normally would not associate them with.
Since 2006, U.S. food manufacturers have been required by law to list the ingredients of prepared foods. In addition, they must use plain language to disclose whether their products contain (or may contain) any of the top eight allergenic foods—eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, shellfish, and fish.
Treating a Food Allergy Reaction
When you have food allergies, you must be prepared to treat unintentional exposures. Talk to your healthcare professional and plan to protect yourself by taking the following steps:
- Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace
- Carry an auto-injector device containing epinephrine (adrenaline), such as an EpiPen
- Seek medical help immediately if you are having symptoms
Talk to your healthcare professional to find out what medicines may relieve mild food allergy symptoms that are not part of an anaphylactic reaction. However, be aware that it is very difficult to know which reactions are mild and which may lead to severe reactions (anaphylaxis).
Ways to manage your food allergy after a diagnosis:
- Is there a cure for food allergies? Not yet. The only way to prevent a reaction to a food is to avoid the allergenic food.
- The guidelines recommend that you read food labels carefully.
- If your child has a food allergy, the guidelines suggest seeking nutritional counseling.
- Remember, because some allergies can be outgrown, you should be re-tested periodically to see whether you are still allergic.
Acute Allergic Reactions
An acute, or serious, allergic reaction that comes on rapidly and may result in death is called “anaphylaxis.” It can have many symptoms and affect different parts of the body. Symptoms can include itching, sneezing, difficulty breathing, and blood circulation problems. As a result, it is under-recognized and under-treated. The most common trigger foods for anaphylaxis are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, and crustaceans (shellfish). To reduce the risk of anaphylaxis, it is essential that you avoid your specific trigger food. If you have a history of anaphylactic reactions to food, you should always carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you.