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Food Allergy (cont.)

Food Allergy Medical Treatment

In a severe reaction, the first priority is to protect the airway (breathing) and blood pressure.

The health care professional will make sure that the airway is open and that the person is getting enough oxygen.

  • Oxygen may be given through a tube into the nose or by face mask.
  • In severe respiratory distress, mechanical ventilation may be required. A tube is placed in the mouth to keep the airway open.
  • In rare cases, a simple surgery is performed to open an airway.

Blood pressure will be checked frequently.

  • An IV line may be started.
  • This is used to give saline solution to help boost blood pressure.
  • It also may be used to give medication.

The person may need to be admitted to the hospital for further monitoring and treatment.

Food Allergy Medications

The choice of medication and how it is given depends on the severity of the reaction.

  • Epinephrine
    • This drug is given only in very severe reactions (anaphylaxis).
    • Epinephrine is injected and acts as a bronchodilator (dilates the breathing tubes).
    • It also constricts the blood vessels, increasing blood pressure.
    • Another medication with similar effects may be given instead.
    • For a less severe reaction involving the respiratory tract, an inhaled epinephrine bronchodilator may be used, as in asthma.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
    • This drug reverses the actions of histamine.
    • Diphenhydramine is injected when quick action is required.
    • It may be given by mouth for a less severe reaction.
  • Corticosteroids
    • One of these drugs is usually given via IV at first for rapid reversal of the effects of the mediators of the allergic response.
    • These drugs should not be confused with the steroids taken by athletes to build muscle and strength.
    • These drugs reduce swelling and many other symptoms of allergic reactions.
    • The person may need to take an oral corticosteroid for several days after this.
    • Oral corticosteroids are often given for less severe reactions.
    • A corticosteroid cream or ointment may be used for skin reactions.
    • Other medications may be given as needed.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/20/2017
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Adverse food reactions can be broadly classified into 2 categories.

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