The role of food allergy in otolaryngology disorders

Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2010 Jun;18(3):195-9. doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e328337b2ca.


Purpose of review: Food allergy is often an unrecognized clinical entity that has been implicated as a cause in many types of chronic inflammatory conditions. This review serves to provide an update on how food allergy plays a role in otolaryngology disorders.

Recent findings: The incidence of food allergy has been on the rise over the last decade. Currently, about 6% of children and 3-4% of adults are thought to be affected by food allergy. The middle and inner ear are immunologically responsive and this includes responsiveness to food hypersenstivities. Both chronic otitis media with effusion and Meniere's disease can improve with treatment of food allergies. Some evidence supports a link between rhinitis and nasal polyps and food allergies. Finally, there is increasing literature about eosinophilic esophagitis, which is a relatively newly recognized disease with many otolaryngologic associations. Many of these patients may have food allergy, and treatment of their food allergy may be effective in treating the disease.

Summary: In chronic inflammatory disorders of the head and neck, especially those involving the upper aerodigestive tract, food allergy must be considered in the differential. Patients with food allergy often do not respond to conventional treatments, and it can often be a challenge to arrive at the proper diagnosis. Further research is warranted to improve our understanding of the role of food allergy in otolaryngology disorders, as well as our diagnostic and treatment methods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Food Hypersensitivity / complications
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Otorhinolaryngologic Diseases / etiology