What Are the Treatments for an Allergic Reaction to Food?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
An allergic reaction to food may require use of an EpiPen.
An allergic reaction to food may require use of an EpiPen.

Treatments for an allergic reaction to food vary according to the severity of the reaction. In some cases, people may find that an antihistamine addresses symptoms, while those with more severe allergies may need a dose of epinephrine to prevent anaphylaxis, a potentially deadly form of allergic reaction. To prevent an allergic reaction to food, an individual typically needs to both identify and avoid those foods that trigger allergic reactions. Drug therapy with omalizumab, an asthma drug, and oral immunotherapy are, as of 2011, considered to be experimental treatments for food allergies and are not widely used.

Signs of an allergic reaction to food may include hives.
Signs of an allergic reaction to food may include hives.

Many food allergies begin in early childhood and, in many cases, go away within several years if parents take care to prevent their children from eating the foods to which they are allergic. Some people may not ever have an allergic reaction to food that is severe enough to warrant medical attention. In cases where a person does suspect a food allergy, he can talk to a doctor about his suspicions and ask about undergoing allergy testing. Once an individual discovers his food allergies, he can usually prevent an allergic reaction to food by not eating the foods that have been identified as allergens for him.

Treating the symptoms, such as applying an anti-itch cream to itchy skin, is often the best way to treat a mild reaction.
Treating the symptoms, such as applying an anti-itch cream to itchy skin, is often the best way to treat a mild reaction.

Unfortunately, sometimes people may unintentionally consume an allergen and develop an allergic reaction. Such individuals may need to monitor their reaction and use a topical oral antihistamine to control allergy symptoms such as hives. Those who have more serious allergies may need to use the drug epinephrine after exposure to an allergen. Typically, these individuals will be provided with a pen-like injector that they can use on themselves if they realize that they have been exposed to a particular food. After the use of an epinephrine injector, individuals are supposed to immediately visit an emergency room for further treatment and observation.

As of 2011, there is some research being conducted on other treatments for food allergies, such as oran immunotherapy. Oral immunotherapy requires a food allergy sufferer to hold a small amount of food under his or her tongue while under medical observation. This process is repeated several times, and each time the allergy sufferer holds a larger amount of the allergen in his or her mouth. Over time, the individual may build up a tolerance to the food. This type of therapy is still being tested and, as it has some dangers, is performed only under controlled circumstances to avoid triggering a potentially life-threatening reaction.

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    • An allergic reaction to food may require use of an EpiPen.
      An allergic reaction to food may require use of an EpiPen.
    • Signs of an allergic reaction to food may include hives.
      Signs of an allergic reaction to food may include hives.
    • Treating the symptoms, such as applying an anti-itch cream to itchy skin, is often the best way to treat a mild reaction.
      Treating the symptoms, such as applying an anti-itch cream to itchy skin, is often the best way to treat a mild reaction.