Peanuts are among the most common food allergens in the United States, according to NIAID.

New Food Allergy Guidelines Aid Diagnosis

The NIAID guidelines assist health professionals in diagnosing and managing food allergies and treating acute allergic reactions.

"Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States" is a new release from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID, an NIH institute), which worked with 34 professional organizations, federal agencies, and patient advocacy groups to develop them. Intended for use by health care professionals who will diagnose and manage food allergy cases and/or treat acute food allergic reactions, the guidelines offer definitions, recommendations, and helpful resources.

About one in every 20 children and one in every 25 adults has a food allergy, according to NIAID, which says the problem "may be increasing in prevalence." The problem is addressed through allergen avoidance and treatment of symptoms. "The diagnosis of food allergy also may be difficult because non-allergic food reactions, such as food intolerance, are often mistakenly classified as food allergies," the agency notes.

Recommendations explain how to diagnose food allergies, including the tests to use; how to manage non-life-threatening reactions; and how to diagnose and manage potentially life-threatening food-induced anaphylaxis and other acute reactions.

The most common food allergens in the United States are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, crustacean shellfish, fish, and soy.

An anaphylaxis emergency action plan in PDF format from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is available at the NIAID food allergy website.

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