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Improving Diagnostic Accuracy in Food Allergy

The journal of allergy and clinical immunology. In practice | 13 Jan 2021

RX Foong, JA Dantzer, RA Wood and AF Santos
The diagnosis of food allergy can have a major impact on the lives of patients and families, imposing dietary restrictions and limitations on social activities. On the other hand, misdiagnosis can place the patient at risk of a potentially severe allergic reaction. Therefore, an accurate diagnosis of food allergy is of utmost importance. The diagnosis of food allergy is often established by the combination of the clinical history and allergen-specific IgE; however, without a clear history of an allergic reaction, the interpretation of IgE sensitization tests can be difficult. There are also rare cases of clinical food allergy in the absence of IgE sensitization. For that reason, testing for suspected food allergy ideally requires access to oral food challenges (OFCs), which are currently the gold standard tests to diagnose food allergy. As OFCs are time consuming and involve the risk of acute allergic reactions of unpredictable severity, the question remains: how can we improve the accuracy of diagnosis before referring the patient for an OFC? Herein, we review the predictive value of different tests used to support the diagnosis of food allergy, discuss implications for therapy and prognosis, and propose a diagnostic approach to be applied in clinical practice.
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