What is a delayed or non-IgE-mediated food allergy?

A non‐IgE-mediated allergy is typically delayed in presenting symptoms, which commonly can occur four to 28 hours after the affected person has ingested the offending food.

This type of food allergy is believed to be caused by a different type of cell, called T-cells, and is much more poorly understood than IgE-mediated allergy.

In the past, non-IgE-mediated allergy has been confused with food intolerances (for example, lactose intolerance) but the two are very different.

Symptoms and signs of a delayed food allergy:

  • In eczema: one sign is that symptoms are typically widespread and respond poorly to standard eczema treatments
  • In reflux: one sign is there is an effortless vomiting and discomfort, in infants
  • Poor growth
  • Abdominal distension
  • Chronic constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood or mucus in stools
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Frequent distress and crying
  • Severe colic that does not improve: it is thought that 10 to 15% of infants with colic in fact may have an allergy
  • Food refusal or aversion: often individuals (including children) naturally avoid the food they are allergic to
  • Tiredness.

An important major point to note is that a non-IgE reaction does not produce hives or the symptoms we traditionally link with the word 'allergy.' They also generally do not respond to typical allergy treatments or EpiPens®.


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