Living with Food Allergies: Understanding the Challenges and Needs

Living with food allergies can be a difficult and life-threatening experience. For those who suffer from them, it is essential to be aware of the risks and take steps to ensure their safety. It is also important for those around them to be sensitive to their needs and understand the challenges they face. Food allergies and food intolerances are often confused, as the symptoms of food intolerance can sometimes resemble those of food allergy.

However, food intolerance does not affect the immune system and does not cause serious allergic reactions (known as anaphylaxis). Food intolerance also doesn't show up on allergy tests, and the Australian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) advises against non-evidence-based allergy testing. When I was a teenager growing up with severe food allergies to milk, nuts, and fish, life wasn't easy. Outside the home, asking about the ingredients in the foods served at restaurants and social gatherings and making decisions about their safety requires self-confidence in the ability to advocate for safety and a willingness to go against social norms.

Children don't buy food, of course, so manufacturers need to know in depth the buyers who are indirectly affected, that is, those who avoid buying food and drinks that contain allergens that could affect someone in their household. Allergy providers have long recognized the need to provide interventional treatment to patients with food allergies in an attempt to improve their condition. New existing treatments require daily adherence to medication, which is not a treatment model that patients with food allergies are used to. Many consumers with food allergies say they're excited to try new brands, suggesting opportunities for manufacturers to attract and retain shoppers. I have been involved in spreading awareness about food allergies in many ways, using my experiences to teach people more about how to live with food allergies.

Just as people are surprised and unaware of my food allergies, they may also be judging me. I think everyone who has food allergies can understand the feeling of being misunderstood because of their food allergies. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the current state of the literature on the experiences and needs of patients and caregivers in relation to food allergies, as well as a set of recommendations on how best to proceed with patient-centered development and evaluation of new treatments for food allergies. Living with food allergies is hard enough, but trying to convey their importance and raise awareness among others is a big challenge.