NEW YORK (MainStreet) – People who suspect they are allergic to something they ate may now have an easier time discovering what causes the reactions they experience, thanks to new clinical guidelines issued earlier this week by the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
A committee representing 34 professional organizations, advocacy groups and federal agencies came up with the recommendations, the first time clinical standards have been provided to doctors to diagnose and treat the symptoms caused by food allergies, such as hives or skin rashes.
The guidelines mainly advocate comprehensive testing for patients affected by a food allergy, advising caregivers to conduct more than one type of lab study — such as a skin, blood, or oral tests in which the patient must consume small amounts of the food in question– and to look at a patient’s complete medical history at the onset of the allergy.
They also list common food allergies and symptoms, while providing a set of standards for physicians to treat their effects. Additionally, the guidelines define common terminology associated with food allergies to promote a collective understanding among practitioners.
Researchers drafted the guidelines to promote early diagnoses, since there are currently no treatments available for patients that treat the allergy directly other than avoiding the foods that cause adverse reactions. The guidelines will be updated if potential treatments, which are in the process of being tested, prove to be effective. Recent studies by the institute reveal that allergies affect nearly 5% of children 5 years old or younger, and 4% of teens and adults.
“These guidelines are an important starting point toward a goal of a more cogent, evidence-based approach to the diagnosis and management of food allergy,” Dr. Joshua Boyce, chair of the guidelines’ coordinating committee, said in a press release. “We believe that they provide health care professionals with a clear-cut definition of what constitutes a food allergy and a logical framework for the appropriate use of diagnostic testing and accurate interpretation of the results.”
Patients can check out a summary of the guidelines here.