What is Food Allergy?

Understanding Food Allergy

Food allergy is an abnormal reaction of the immune system that occurs soon after eating specific foods. The immune system overacts to the proteins found in that food. Even a very tiny amount of the allergic food can trigger digestive problems, hives and swollen airways. In some cases, these reactions can be so severe that they cause life-threatening anaphylaxis.

According to FARE, researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies which affect 1 in every 13 children (under the age of 18) in the U.S.

Food Allergy Statistics

The estimated number of known deaths due to anaphylaxis each year
Children in EVERY classroom across the United States have food allergies
Every 0 Minutes
An allergic reaction sends someone to the emergency room
0 billion
The economic cost of children’s food allergies each year

90% of Food Allergies and Intolerances are triggered by the following:

Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance

It’s easy to confuse food allergies with food intolerance which is more common.  The following list will help to distinguish between food allergy vs. food intolerance.

Food Allergy

  • Usually comes on suddenly
  • Small amount of food can trigger
  • Happens every time the food is ingested
  • Can be life-threatening

Food Intolerance

  • Usually comes on gradually
  • May only happen when you eat a lot of the food
  • May only happen when you eat the food often
  • Is not life-threatening

Symptoms of Both Food Allergy & Food Intolerance

Food Allergy Symptoms

Food allergy happens when your immune system mistakes something in food as harmful and attacks it. It can affect your whole body, not just your stomach. Symptoms may include:

Food Intolerance Symptoms

Food intolerance is when a certain food irritates your stomach or your body can’t properly digest it. Symptoms may include:


  • Strictly avoiding problem foods
  • Working with your doctor to develop a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan
  • Wearing an emergency medical identification (e.g., bracelet, other jewelry) at all times
  • Carrying your medication wherever you go
  • Taking your medication at the first sign of a reaction
  • Getting to an emergency room for follow-up treatment if you have a severe reaction

Food Allergy:  2015 Guidelines

  • AVOIDING allergic foods is the recommended protocol
  • Reading food labels (Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004)
  • Using special food allergy cookbooks
  • Consulting registered dietitians
  • Joining patient support groups
  • Creating environmental safeguards
  • Re-testing for food allergies on an annual basis with the hope to “outgrow” the allergy
  • Implementing an Anaphylaxis rescue plan

Food Allergy Treatment Challenges

Epinephrine Rescue
  • Multiple epinephrine products on the market ( EpiPen®, Auvi-Q™, or Adrenaclick®)
  • Geographic access and rescue use
  • Limited self-administration
  • College campus risk
  • Poor prescribing for anaphylaxis
  • Nearly 70% of parents cannot effectively use EpiPen or do not have it available (Arkwright Pediatric Allergy Immunology 17(3):227-9)
High Level of Anxiety Leads to:
  • Poor school performance
  • Socialization challenges
  • Extreme parental supervision
  • Home schooling for 35-40% of kids
  • Limited family existence
  • Social media involvement
  • Failed allopathic (mainstream) and homeopathic treatment efforts
  • Forced movement toward food immunotherapy
School Limitations
  • Stigma of “nut free” tables
  • Recess/outdoor exposures and cross contamination
  • School 504 Plans do not focus on safety
  • Other parents in school environment have a poor perception
  • Food allergy parents’ “airborne antigen” concerns often overstated
  • Anaphylaxis rescue plans are varied and poorly followed
  • School nurses are often not present

Food Allergy:  The TPIRC Difference

The Problem

  • For over 100 years, the only treatment is to avoid allergic foods
  • Poor early recognition of food allergies – general practitioners are unsure with early cases and secondary exposures often result in severe reactions
  • Poor deployment of rescue treatment plans leads to resultant mortality
  • “Fear and Liability” slow progress of any treatments

The Solution

2,000 Graduates from the Tolerance Induction Programs since 2008

2,000 Graduates from the Tolerance Induction Program since 2008

  • Dr. Randhawa started dose escalation therapy protocols for milk, egg, tree nuts and peanuts in 2008 (Food Allergy Treatment FAQ’s)
    • The only Food Allergy Center nationwide physically located within a hospital
    • Comprehensive safety measures
    • Dosing accuracy
    • Comprehensive diagnostic testing
    • Team approach including dietitian, gastroenterologist, and allergist
    • No patient selection limitations
    • Treatment involves food desensitization
TPIRC Treatment Highlights

TPIRC Treatment Highlights

  • 2009-2013: Experience developed with milk, egg, soy
  • 2011-2013: 21 peanut graduates
  • May 2013 – March 2015
    • 391 new patients
    • 2,720 visits
    • 2,460 food challenges
    • 137 peanut graduates tolerating 2 tablespoons of peanut butter equivalent daily
    • Coverage of all tree nuts, numerous seeds, milk, egg, soy and wheat
  • For more information, visit our Web site – SoCalFoodAllergy.org
TPIRC's Clinical Care and Treatment Goals

TPIRC Clinical Care and Treatment Goals

  • Provide ample access to patients for intake and review of diagnostic results
  • Provide safe testing for food allergy (blood, skin, patch, etc.)
  • Confirm food immunotherapy success rates in all patients over time to ensure food allergy “remission”
  • Design and publish national guidelines on food allergy diagnosis, safety and desensitization treatment applicable to the most common allergic foods

To learn more about the TPIRC Difference,
visit our Food Allergy Web site – SoCalFoodAllergy.org.

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