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Is there a cure for food allergy?

Well, it depends on the type of food someone is allergic to.

Recently there has been information in the press about advances in peanut allergy treatment. Researchers are currently studying the effects of giving multiple small doses of peanut in attempt to cure the allergy. Although this therapy may work in some patients, the rate of treatment-related side effects is quite high. Even in patients who respond positively to this treatment, it is unclear if their desensitized state will be maintained for long periods of time. Due to the high rate of side effects and unclear duration of improvement, desensitization therapy for peanut allergy is not currently standard of care. Allergists continue to recommend avoidance of peanut consumption if a patient has peanut allergy.

On the other hand, allergies to fruits and vegetables have a more promising prognosis. Oral itching after eating foods such as raw apples, cherries, and carrots is a common complaint in New England. Cooked forms of these foods are often tolerated. These symptoms are termed the “Oral Allergy Syndrome”. Patients who have a severe allergy to pollen often complain of itching or swelling of the mouth after eating raw fruits and vegetables. This is caused by structural similarities between pollen and raw fruits and vegetables. Cooking these foods changes their structure, making them less allergic. Because pollen allergy is the cause of this syndrome, reducing pollen sensitivity often improves food-related symptoms. Many patients who undergo 2 or more years of pollen desensitization, or “allergy shots,” report an improvement in their fruit and vegetable allergy.

Although a definitive cure for all food allergies is not yet available, there is hope for people who suffer from raw fruit and vegetable allergy. Please contact your local allergist for more information.