Food allergy: what it is and what it is not?
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
Food allergy is defined as an adverse health effect arising from a specific immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food. Food intolerance, certain gastrointestinal or systemic diseases are often confused with or mislabeled as food allergy because of symptomatic similarity and general improvement from food avoidance. The differences between these diseases are crucial.
Compared with many food-related diseases that are isolated to gastrointestinal organs, food allergy can affect not only local but the whole immune system and may lead to a life-threatening allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. In this review, the differentiation between food allergy, food intolerance, and other comparable diseases is discussed.
With recent medical advances reflecting on the importance of accurate diagnosis in food hypersensitivity, healthcare providers who are treating food hypersensitivity should familiarize with latest science progress, identify and treat active disease, and refer to appropriate specialists if needed.