DOI: 10.2500/jfa.2023.5.230011 ISSN: 2689-0267

Quality of life and psychological issues associated with food allergy

Justin Greiwe
  • Marketing
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • General Materials Science
  • General Chemical Engineering

Food allergies (FA) pose risks beyond just the physical harm caused by anaphylaxis. The psychological consequences associated with an FA diagnosis can arguably be more detrimental for long-term health and quality of life than the consequences of an actual reaction. This can be seen in the hypervigilance of patients and caregivers surrounding mealtime, limited social interactions with peers, strained familial relationships, and increased reluctance to travel.1 More than 40% of children with FA have experienced at least one severe food-induced reaction. Given the need for daily nourishment, the potential for a very small amount leading to a life-threatening reaction is real, so it is not surprising that fear and anxiety can overwhelm patients with this condition.1,2 Allergists have a responsibility to recognize the difference between adaptive versus maladaptive anxiety. Whereas the demands of a busy office can often dissuade prolonged in-depth conversations about mental health, there are several validated tools that can be used to quickly and efficiently identify patients at risk. Allergists can play an important role in how an FA diagnosis is conceptualized and whether families leave the office with confidence or with excessive amounts of fear. Instilling a healthy respect for foods without crippling families with anxiety should be the goal of any clinic visit. To provide optimal support and treatment for patients with increased stress and anxiety, there needs to be a more substantial and easily accessible network of mental health professionals integrated within FA treatment centers so that patients and their families have the resources to address their mental health needs.

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