, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 351-357

Gastrointestinal food allergies: Do they exist?

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Abstract

Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are often attributed to adverse reactions to foods (ARF), but it is not always clear whether such reactions are caused by food allergy. A reaction to food proteins that is mediated by immunologic events is referred to as food allergy or food hypersensitivity. One of the most common types of food allergy is the IgE-mediated immediate hypersensitivity reaction to foods, which can give rise to dermatologic and respiratory tract symptoms in addition to GI complaints. Other GI forms of food allergy include food protein-induced enterocolitis or gastroenteropathy, celiac disease, and some cases of eosinophilic gastroenteritis. Because most patients complaining of adverse reactions to food have non-immune mechanisms for their complaints, it is important to distinguish the various types of ARF, as their management may differ substantially. Recent advances in the field of food allergy provide opportunities to improve diagnostic methods and develop new modalities for management that will complement the current practice of allergen avoidance.