Food Allergy Symptoms: Almost most of suffer with food allergies often with the existing menu of fast food and adulterants the food industries use. Food allergies are estimated to affect 4% – 6% of children and 4% of adults, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A fact that was underestimated.
Food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children, but they can appear at any age. The cultivation of today’s veggies and fruits is questionable as anyone can even develop an allergy to foods you have eaten for years with no problems.
Do you suspect you’re suffering from a food allergy? An allergist can evaluate your symptoms and determine the source. Visit the doctor every once in three quarters of the year.
Food Allergy Symptoms
The body’s immune system keeps us healthy by fighting off infections and other dangers to good health. A food allergy reaction occurs when our immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in food. Identifying the food i.e. as a danger and triggering a protective response.
Allergies run in family histories and it is always pleasant to be aware of such conditions.
Some research does suggest that the younger siblings of a child with a peanut allergy will also be allergic to peanuts.
Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe. While any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 per cent of all reactions:
- Tree nuts
The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis — a life-threatening whole-body allergic reaction that can impair our breathing, cause a dramatic drop in our blood pressure and affect the heart rate.
Anaphylaxis can come on within minutes of exposure to the trigger food. It can be fatal and must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may involve the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory tract. They can surface in one or more of the following ways:
- Vomiting and/or stomach cramps
- Shortness of breath
- Repetitive cough
- Shock or circulatory collapse
- Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing
- Swelling of the tongue, affecting the ability to talk or breathe
- Weak pulse
- Pale or blue colouring of the skin
- Dizziness or feeling faint
Anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock; reactions may simultaneously affect different parts of the body (for example, a stomachache accompanied by a rash)
Most food-related symptoms occur within two hours of ingestion
Food Allergy Causes
Once a food allergy is diagnosed, the most effective treatment is to avoid the food. The foods most associated with food allergy in children are:
- Children may outgrow their allergic reactions to milk and eggs. Peanut and tree nut allergies are likely to persist.
- The most common food allergens in adults are:
- Fruit and vegetable pollen (oral allergy syndrome)
- Peanuts and tree nuts
- Fish and shellfish
People allergic to a specific food may also potentially have a reaction to related foods. A person allergic to one tree nut may be cross-reactive to others. Those allergic to shrimp may react to crab and lobster.
Someone allergic to peanuts – which actually are legumes (beans), not nuts – may have problems with tree nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, almonds and cashews; in very rare circumstances they may have problems with other legumes (excluding soy).
Learning about patterns of cross-reactivity and what must be avoided is one of the reasons why people with food allergies should receive care from a board-certified allergist.
Negative tests are very impactful in ruling out an allergy.
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Food Allergies and Its Diagnosis
Symptoms can vary from person to person, situation to situation and we may not always experience the same symptoms. Allergic reactions to food can affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system.
The risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction that is treated with epinephrine (adrenaline) can creep during an allergic reaction.
The first time the food allergy hits the patient, it is wiser to see a doctor right away to avoid future complications.
Diagnosis involves allergists who take a detailed report about the patients’ medical history and your symptoms. Be prepared to answer questions about:
- What and how much you ate
- How long it took for symptoms to develop
- What symptoms you experienced and how long they lasted.
After taking your history, your allergist may order skin tests and/or blood tests, which indicate whether food-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies are present in your body:
Skin-prick tests: They provide results in about 20 minutes. A liquid containing a tiny amount of the food allergen is placed on the arm skin or back. If the test reflexes pain when the skin is pricked with a small, sterile probe, allowing the liquid to seep under the skin, it is positive.
Blood tests: which are a bit less exact than skin tests, measure the amount of IgE antibody to the specific food(s) being tested. Results are typically available in about a week and are reported as a numerical value.
Allergists will use the results of these tests in making a diagnosis. A positive result does not necessarily indicate that there is an allergy, though a negative result is useful in ruling one out.
Oral food test: In some cases, an allergist will recommend an oral food challenge, which is considered the most accurate way to make a food allergy diagnosis.
Because of the possibility of a severe reaction, an oral food challenge should be conducted only by experienced allergists in a doctor’s office or at a food challenge centre, with emergency medication and equipment on hand.
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Food Allergy Preventive and treatment measures
- The primary way to manage a food allergy is to avoid consuming the food that causes your problems.
- Carefully check ingredient labels of food products, and learn whether what you need to avoid is known by other names.
- Some goods also may be labelled with precautionary statements, such as “may contain,” “might contain,” “made on shared equipment,” “made in a shared facility” or some other indication of potential allergen contamination.
- Avoiding an allergen is easier said than done. While labelling has helped make this process a bit easier, some foods are so common that avoiding them is daunting.
- A dietitian or a nutritionist may be able to help. These food experts will offer tips for avoiding the foods that trigger your allergies and will ensure that even if you exclude certain foods from your diet, you still will be getting all the nutrients you need.
- Special cookbooks and support groups, either in person or online, for patients with specific allergies can also provide useful information.
- Allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy may disappear over time, while allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to be lifelong.
- Be extra careful when eating in restaurants. Waiters (and sometimes the kitchen staff) may not always know the ingredients of every dish on the menu.
- Depending on your sensitivity, even just walking into a kitchen or a restaurant can cause an allergic reaction.