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Open Access Using oral food challenges to provide clarity and confidence when diagnosing food allergies

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A verified food allergy can be an impactful life event that leads to increased anxiety and measurable effects on quality of life. Allergists play a key role in framing this discussion and can help alleviate underlying fears by promoting confidence and clarifying safety concerns. Correctly diagnosing a patient with an immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated food allergy remains a nuanced process fraught with the potential for error and confusion. This is especially true in situations in which the clinical history is not classic, and allergists rely too heavily on food allergy testing to provide a confirmatory diagnosis. A comprehensive medical history is critical in the diagnosis of food allergy and should be used to determine subsequent testing and interpretation of the results. Oral food challenge (OFC) is a critical procedure to identify patients with an IgE-mediated food allergy when the history and testing are not specific enough to confirm the diagnosis and can be a powerful teaching tool regardless of outcome. Although the safety and feasibility of performing OFC in a busy allergy office have always been a concern, in the hands of an experienced and trained provider, OFC is a safe and reliable procedure for patients of any age. With food allergy rates increasing and analysis of recent data that suggests that allergists across the United States are not providing this resource consistently to their patients, more emphasis needs to be placed on food challenge education and hands-on experience. The demand for OFCs will only continue to increase, especially with the growing popularity of oral immunotherapy programs; therefore, it is essential that allergists become familiar with the merits and limitations of current testing modalities and open their doors to using OFCs in the office.

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Keywords: best practice; food allergy; motivational interviewing; oral food challenge; oral immunotherapy; serum specific IgE testing; skin prick testing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From the Bernstein Allergy Group, Inc, Cincinnati, Ohio, and

Publication date: April 1, 2021

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