Food allergy in adolescents and adults


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There has been an increase in the prevalence of food allergy in the last few decades. Adult food allergy may represent persistence of reactions that commenced in infancy and early childhood or it may be initiated in adulthood through new sensitizations. Persistence of peanut allergy is an example of the former situation. Approximately 20% of children will develop tolerance to peanuts, so there will be an increasing number of individuals reaching adulthood where this problem will need ongoing management. In addition to peanut, tree nuts, fruits, vegetables and seafood are implicated as common causes of food allergy in adulthood. Sensitization may occur directly to a food allergen or indirectly through cross-reactivity with an aeroallergen. Adults may present with a spectrum of clinical manifestations from oral allergy syndrome to fatal anaphylaxis. The management of food allergy consists of appropriate education regarding avoidance of implicated foods, modifying potential risk factors for anaphylaxis, such as asthma and prompt recognition and treatment of acute reactions.