Food allergy and quality of life

Researchers have shown that food allergy has a significant impact on the quality of life of allergic individuals and their families.

Parents and children running hand in handSpecially-designed questionnaires can measure people’s ability to function in their everyday lives.

General quality of life questionnaires are available that can be used in different diseases.

Research using such questionnaires has shown that:

  • Daily life is more disrupted in peanut allergic individuals than in individuals with a rheumatic disease.
  • Family activities were limited in families with food allergic children.
  • Female adolescents with food allergy feel more impaired health-wise and socially than female adolescents with other allergy-like conditions.
  • Gender differences exist in the quality of life of the family members of children with peanut allergy. Mothers experienced greater anxiety and stress than fathers or sibling(s). In addition, mothers rated their child’s quality of life worse than the father, sibling(s), or the allergic child.

Researchers have developed and tested the reliability of questionnaires that are specific for food allergy.

Answers to one of these questionnaires indicate that food allergy has a significant impact on almost all aspects of daily life.

Diagnosis and quality of life

Research has shown that there is an improvement in allergic individual’s quality of life after completing a food challenge (diagnostic test), even when the challenge was positive (van der Velde, Flokstra-de Blok et al. 2012). This is because a definitive diagnosis can provide a sense of certainty, on both allergy diagnosis and the allergen tolerance threshold.

However, the fear of severe or even fatal allergic reactions has been linked to increased anxiety and a reduced quality of life in allergic individuals comparable to individuals with diabetes and other chronic diseases (Avery, King et al. 2003).

Further reading

EuroPrevall papers: