Characteristics of patients with food intolerance

The most widely quoted study is by Parker et al. They were able to divide 45 adults reporting food-related complaints into two groups. The first group of 22

subjects reported reactions to the common allergenic foods - legumes, tree nuts, crustaceans and fish. Twenty-one out of the 22 subjects in this group had positive skin prick tests to the offending food. The second group reported reactions to food such as sugar, wheat, egg, cured meat and yeasts. Only four out of the 23 subjects in group 2 had a positive skin prick test in this group (evidence of IgE) that supported their reported reactions (chi-squared 24.68, p value < 0.0001). The second group's symptoms started at an older age - 28.9 years versus 17.1 years (p = 0.0015) - and were related to a much broader range of foods - 25.6 versus an average of 5.5 (p = 0.0002).

In this key study Parker et al. showed that the group of adults with allergic-type symptoms were significantly more likely to suffer swelling and respiratory symptoms than the group with non-allergic complaints and negative skin prick tests. The group with non-allergy-mediated complaints reported significantly more non-specific problems such as neurological symptoms (headache, fainting, numbness), gastrointestinal symptoms (bloating and distension but not pain, vomiting or diarrhoea) and musculoskeletal symptoms (cramps and stiff joints).

Briefly, intolerance reactions are more common in adults and a wide range of responsible foods and symptoms induced are demonstrated.11,12 It must be remembered that not all IgE-mediated disease occurs immediately. There is a well-described phenomenon of late-phase IgE reactions with late urticaria (itchy hives) and oedema (swelling) within the first 24 hours of exposure to the foods. It can be difficult to distinguish clinically this 24-48 hour reaction from that which is caused by non-IgE-mediated immunological reactions such as those that cause an exacerbation of eczema. Often the temporal association with a dietary exposure to allergen is the only clue.

Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Peanuts can leave you breathless. Cat dander can lead to itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing. And most of us have suffered through those seasonal allergies with horrible pollen counts. Learn more...

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