Everything You Should Know About FPIES Allergy
Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, commonly abbreviated FPIES, is a rare but severe food allergy syndrome. Although it is most commonly diagnosed in infants and children, FPIES can affect people of all ages.
Unlike other types of food allergies, which may cause rashes, itching, hives, neurological symptoms, behavior conditions, and many other symptoms, FPIES exclusively affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract by causing severe vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. In most cases, these intense symptoms will occur within two hours of eating the food that triggered the allergic reaction.
What Foods Trigger FPIES Reactions?
The exact trigger for FPIES will vary from one person to another. Although any food can cause FPIES, some triggers are more common than others. Some patients will have just one trigger, while others may have several.
Common FPIES triggers include:
- Soy and dairy products, including infant formulas
- Grains, especially wheat, oats, rice, and barley
- Proteins, such as chicken, fish, beef, and turkey
Your Arizona allergist will work with you to determine which foods are triggering FPIES reactions in order to reduce the reactions and provide more effective treatment.
Who Is Most Likely To Suffer From FPIES?
The vast majority of FPIES patients are infants and young children. Although most of these children will outgrow their FPIES allergies, some adults will retain the allergy or develop it later in life. FPIES is diagnosed in both breastfed and formula fed infants.
FPIES is extremely rare and very difficult to diagnose, so it’s likely that some people who are suffering from FPIES have been diagnosed incorrectly. The rareness of FPIES has made it challenging for researchers to pinpoint exact risk factors, but it’s more common in people who have a family history of allergies, including asthma, hay fever, and eczema.
What Are The Symptoms Of FPIES?
In infants, the symptoms of FPIES can begin as soon as the first few days of life or may be seen months or even years later. It’s common for infants to develop symptoms as they begin to be introduced to solid foods. Adults may begin to exhibit symptoms of FPIES anytime.
FPIES symptoms include:
- Severe vomiting that starts about two hours after eating the trigger food
- Diarrhea, especially after the vomiting has begun
- Stomach cramps
- Changes in blood pressure
- Changes in body temperature
- Weight loss
- Lethargy, fatigue, or lack of energy
Some of these symptoms are easily confused with stomach viruses, food poisoning, and other viral or bacterial infections, but FPIES symptoms are chronic and will continue to last as long as you are exposed to your trigger foods, unlike acute illness that lasts just a few days. If you suspect you or your child has FPIES, contact an experienced Queen Creek allergy doctor for an evaluation.
What Complications May Occur With FPIES?
Severe FPIES reactions may result in a need for IV fluids and even hospitalizations. In many cases, especially for infants, FPIES results in malnutrition and failure to thrive, which can cause stunted growth and development. Timely evaluation, diagnosis, and management by your Mesa allergy expert is essential.
How Is FPIES Diagnosed?
FPIES cannot be diagnosed with a typical allergy test such as a skin prick or blood tests because it’s limited to the GI tract and doesn’t involve antibodies like regular allergies do. In order to trigger symptoms that will confirm a diagnosis, you will need to consume the food. Your doctor may recommend an oral food challenge, in which a very small amount of suspected trigger food will be consumed under a doctor’s supervision to watch for reactions.
Monitoring for food reactions and keeping food diaries are crucial for diagnosis of FPIES. Because FPIES mimics other chronic conditions, it can be difficult to diagnose. Other conditions, such as celiac disease, other GI disorders, and other food allergies may need to be ruled out as well in order to confirm an FPIES diagnosis. Talk with your doctor about food allergy symptoms and options, and consult with a Chandler allergy doctor if your symptoms continue or allergy tests are inconclusive.
How Will My Allergist Treat FPIES?
There is no treatment or cure for FPIES, so the best practice is to strictly avoid your trigger foods. Your Arizona allergy doctor can help you find a formula that your baby can tolerate. If you have many triggers, your doctor will help you create a diet plan that contains all of the necessary nutrients you need while also being safe for your allergies.
Most infants who are diagnosed with FPIES will outgrow their allergy by age 3-4. Children who are diagnosed in older childhood are less likely to outgrow it; adults will probably continue to have the condition for the rest of their lives.
The good news is that FPIES patients can live fulfilling lives when their condition is diagnosed, and they are able to avoid trigger foods.
Arizona’s Top Rated FPIES Care
If you or your child is suffering from FPIES, schedule an appointment with the caring doctors at San Tan Allergy & Asthma. We are one of Arizona’s leading providers of testing and care for FPIES patients. With three convenient locations, acceptance from a wide variety of insurance companies, and many years of expertise, we are the best choice for allergy care in the greater Phoenix area. Let us help you get back to healthy living! Call us today to get started.