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How should Pollen Food Syndrome be diagnosed and managed?

People with Pollen Food Syndrome (PFS) – also known as oral allergy syndrome or pollen food allergy syndrome – experience an allergic reaction when consuming raw plant foods, and triggers can vary depending on an individual’s pollen sensitisation, which in turn is affected by geographical location. The British Society of Allergy & Clinical Immunology Standards of Care Committee has developed a guideline for diagnosing and managing PFS.

The guideline, which is published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy, notes that it’s essential to distinguish PFS from a primary allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, or fruit. Management focuses on avoiding known trigger foods, which may appear to be simple, but can be difficult if coupled with a pre-existing food allergy, or for individuals following a vegetarian/vegan diet.

“More studies on the effect of PFS on health-related quality of life are needed to dispel the myth that because it usually manifests with mild symptoms, PFS is easily managed, and does not adversely affect the individual,” the authors wrote. “The number of foods and concern about new food triggers means dietary restrictions are often overly strict, so more research on novel treatments of PFS, including food immunotherapy, needs to be undertaken.”

Paper: Skypala IJ, et al. (2022). BSACI guideline for the diagnosis and management of pollen food syndrome in the UK. Clin Exp Allergy.: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cea.14208.

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