Food Allergy Doctor in NYC
Safe, Effective Treatment for Food Allergies
Food allergies affect 32 million Americans. More than 50% of adults with food allergies and more than 40% of children with food allergies have experienced a severe reaction. In fact, data suggests that the prevalence of food allergy may be increasing with a large percentage of school-age children at risk for anaphylaxis. And there are promising NEW treatments that can greatly improve the lives of people with food allergies.
New Safe & Effective Treatments for Food Allergies
Our NYC allergy practice specializes in solving difficult cases through the latest technology in testing, research-based treatment, and compassionate care. That’s why we are known as The Allergy Detectives. 32 million Americans have potentially life-threatening food allergies and there has been an increase in food allergies as people, in general, are becoming more allergic. Food allergies in children have increased 50% between 1997-1999 and 2009-2011.
Food allergies can cause very serious symptoms including anaphylaxis, heart failure, comas and even death. There has been a 377% increase in diagnosis of anaphylactic food reactions between 2007 and 2016.
Dr. Dean Mitchell, M.D., board-certified allergist, specializes in food allergies, including difficult cases, and can treat your food allergy to prevent or reduce the likelihood of having a reaction with severe symptoms.
Food Allergy Treatment
Food allergies are an epidemic and are the most urgent problem in the field of allergy today. They cause anxiety, reduced quality of life for the sufferer and their families, embarrassment, and in some cases heartbreak to families. Until very recently, whenever a patient told me they had a food allergy the best I could recommend was avoidance – not anymore!
There are now two treatments available to patients with food allergies:
- Sublingual immunotherapy or SLIT
- Oral allergy immunotherapy or OIT
Allergy Drops Treatment
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) or allergy drops treatment desensitizes patients to their allergy over time using liquid drops. The allergy drops are placed under the tongue and increased over time to gradually build up a tolerance to the allergen in the body. The beauty of this treatment is that it is very safe and patients can do this at home. Recent studies have demonstrated that SLIT is effective in safely desensitizing patients with food allergies.
Sublingual immunotherapy is also a home-based therapy. Even updoses can be conducted at home via a virtual telehealth appointment.
Oral Immunotherapy (OIT)
Another option for patients with severe food allergies is oral immunotherapy. This treatment method involves the patient ingesting high doses of peanut flour protein capsules over time (this can be done with other foods as well).
Learn more about this treatment by listening to Dr. Mitchell’s podcast – Living a Safer Life with Dangerous Food Allergy with Allergy Drops
Telehealth Virtual New Patient Consultations
We know it can be difficult to always find time to get to the doctor’s office which is why we are now offering discounted virtual new patient consultations with Dr. Mitchell. During the 15 minute consultation, you will speak directly with Dr. Mitchell about your allergy issues just like you would at his office. We want to help you save time and money while still getting a qualified consultation.
Give us a call at 212-397-0157 to schedule your virtual telehealth consultation with Dr. Mitchell!
How We Diagnose Food Allergies
Take a Detailed History
Often times patients seek a consultation after they or their child has had a reaction to a food they ate. Our first step is to take a detailed personal dietary and health history, including family history of allergies and disease. Look for genetic and lifestyle risk factors for food allergies. Your history takes into account foods you are eating—because that’s where the culprit is likely to be.
Rule out Sensitivity to Food
Food sensitivity is very different than a food allergy, yet they are often confused. There are various common food sensitivities including lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity (in severe cases, it’s called Celiac disease) and gastrointestinal reflux (GERD). The symptoms tend to be different and can include digestive problems like gas and pain, nausea, as well as itching, or even joint pain, headaches, rashes, and anemia.
Testing for Food Allergies (New Advances)
This can be done in two ways. The older method is skin-prick testing, where a drop of a liquid allergen is placed on the surface of the skin and gently pricked with a plastic tooth-pick device. If your skin develops an itchy, red wheal (bump) then this could mean you’re allergic to the particular allergen. This does come with a small risk of having a severe reaction to the allergen.
We prefer the most innovative testing with blood testing.
The most precise tests available, called ImmunoCAP and ISAC by Phadia, measure the specific allergen components. The blood is drawn and sent to a lab to be analyzed for levels of individual protein components of the allergen. This is important because being allergic to some protein components is more dangerous than others.
The advantages of blood tests are that they are accurate and safe. You’re not exposed to the allergen, so there’s no risk of having a severe reaction to the test. The ISAC test, in particular, does precise component testing of specific food and environmental allergens. This gives the advantage of avoiding false cross-reacting positive test and gives a quantified level of specific allergen.
We do not use food challenges to diagnose food allergies due to the significant risk.
Most Common Food Allergies
Below are the most common food allergies:
- Tree Nuts
What are Food Allergies?
Food allergies can cause very serious symptoms, including anaphylaxis, seizures, coma, and even death. In fact, every 3 minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. Food allergies happen when your immune system overreacts to a harmless food protein – an allergen.
And these reactions don’t necessarily happen the first time your body is exposed to a food protein. Over time and by repeated exposure the body’s immune system can become “sensitized” so that the body will no longer tolerate a certain agent even though it was fine when it was exposed to that agent before.
Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies
- Skin reaction such as hives, itching, flushing or pale skin
- Vomiting, nausea or diarrhea
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing
- Swelling of the tongue or throat causing a constriction of the airways
- Dizziness or fainting
- Low blood pressure or a weak and rapid pulse
Among all the reactions to food that can occur, the respiratory responses are the most dangerous and frightening.
Traditional Food Allergy Treatments
Currently, there is no “cure” for food allergies and until recently there weren’t any treatments for food allergies. Patients were told to always carry two doses of epinephrine and completely avoid and abstain from the food they are allergic to and avoid cross-contact with the food.
Avoidance is very difficult to achieve because of the potential for cross-contact. It can also lead to dramatic restrictions on every day activities and can cause anxiety, sadness, and social isolation. Even extreme diligence avoidance is not 100% protection because accidents happen. One of my patients was a five-year-old boy named Timmy. He was allergic to peanuts, and his mother was always careful and hyper-vigilant. But one day she took Timmy to an ice cream shop and ordered him a sundae specifying no nuts. After his second spoonful, Timmy said, “Mommy, I don’t feel good.” He began to break out in hives all over his body and was wheezing loudly. She quickly checked the sundae and saw Reese’s Pieces (which contains peanuts) at the bottom. She raced him to the nearest hospital, where I met them. He immediately received a dose of adrenalin and his symptoms subsided.
Avoidance means that patients and their families have to be careful about what they eat and bring into the house. There are too many tragic stories of food allergy patients with peanut allergies who died because they ate a food unknowingly containing peanut are too numerous to detail. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network is a great organization that puts out alerts when a food product has been contaminated with a potential allergen and offers excellent updates of new laws protecting food allergy patients.
If you or your child has a severe food allergy, you should carry two injectable epinephrine injectors (such as Auvi-Q, EpiPen, or Twin-Jet). This medication requires a physician’s prescription, and the patient should be shown when and how to use it in the office. Epinephrine is the first course of action for anaphylaxis but always follow your Emergency Care Plan. If you do need to use it, seek medical attention afterward for observation. Follow your Emergency Action Plan for other allergic reactions.
The new blood-testing technology we use in our NYC and Long Island offices can pinpoint the specific food allergy you are sensitive to. Knowing what the source is and how sensitive you are can help to avoid exposure. To get tested, contact us today.
High-Risk Factors of Food Allergies
- Genetics: A child with one allergic parent has a 33% chance of developing allergies. With both parents having allergies, 70%.
- Environmental Factors: The way a food is prepared can make it more or less allergenic. For instance, dry-roasted peanuts are more allergenic than raw or boiled peanuts. Skin exposure to food like peanuts can raise your risk (many soaps, shampoos or other products have peanut oil in them). Stomach acidity and bacteria flora in the gut are also important factors in food allergies.
- Antibiotics: New studies show that taking antibiotics early in life can “clean out” helpful gut flora, making a child more susceptible to developing food allergies. A number of studies have found that taking probiotics can restore good flora and decrease the chances of developing food allergies. If you think you have a food allergy, contact us to get tested. We can help.
Contact us today to schedule your new patient appointment or learn more about our unique 3-step approach for allergy treatment and testing.