Skip to main content


A new insight into FEIA

Article metrics

  • 998 Accesses

Two cases of patients with food and exercise-induced anaphylaxis (FEIA) with confirmed allergies to oral allergy syndrome are herein presented. Patient A had food anaphylaxis to fresh coriander and tomato and Patient B to fresh celery. These food allergens have structural antigenic similarity to that of birch and/or grass. Both patients’ allergies were confirmed by fresh prick-to-prick tests. In both cases, strenuous exercise before the reaction was the only cofactor and the patients had absolutely no symptoms with the offending foods outside of exercise. The exercise had likely lowered the threshold for their reactions. The current literature propose that in FEIA, there is increased GI permeability, leading to enhanced allergen absorption [1]. However, van Nieuvenhoven et al found that intestinal permeability actually decreases with exercise [2]. In fact, Bi and Triadafilopoulos noted in their review that strenuous exercise delays gastric emptying of liquids and solids and inhibits gastric acid production [3]. These studies have led us to propose of a novel paradigm for the mechanism of FEIA. The general inhibitory effects of exercise on the GI tract decrease the digestion of oral allergens, thus leaving the allergens more structurally intact and thereby allowing continued systemic absorption of the allergen. This mechanism is supported by Untersmayr and Jensen-Jarolim’s findings on the increased risk of labile food allergy induction with the use of antacid medications [4]. We propose the decrease in gastric acid in exercise as a more biologically plausible hypothesis of the mechanism of FEIA to oral allergens foods.


  1. 1.

    Robson-Ansley P, Toit GD: Pathophysiology, diagnosis and management of exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Current opinion in allergy and clinical immunology. 2010, 10 (4): 312-317. 10.1097/ACI.0b013e32833b9bb0.

  2. 2.

    van Nieuwenhoven MA, Brouns F, Brummer RJ: Gastrointestinal profile of symptomatic athletes at rest and during physical exercise. European journal of applied physiology. 2004, 91 (4): 429-434. 10.1007/s00421-003-1007-z.

  3. 3.

    Bi L, Triadafilopoulos G: Exercise and gastrointestinal function and disease: an evidence-based review of risks and benefits. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003, 1: 345-55. 10.1053/S1542-3565(03)00178-2.

  4. 4.

    Untersmayr E, Jensen-Jarolim E: The role of protein digestibility and antacids on food allergy outcomes. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology. 2008, 121 (6): 1301-1308. 10.1016/j.jaci.2008.04.025. quiz 1309-1310

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Jason Kihyuk Lee.

Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article


  • Food Allergy
  • Intestinal Permeability
  • Allergen Food
  • Delay Gastric Emptying
  • Oral Allergy Syndrome