The body’s immune system keeps you healthy by fighting off infections and other dangers to good health. A food allergy reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in a food, identifying it as a danger and triggering a protective response. When people have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate, they often think that they have an allergy to the food. Even a tiny amount of the allergy-causing food can trigger signs and symptoms such as digestive problems, hives or swollen airways. In some people, a food allergy can cause severe symptoms or even a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. Food intolerance, is far more prevalent, occurs in a variety of diseases, and is triggered by several different mechanisms that are distinct from the immunological reaction responsible for food allergy.
Symptoms of Food Allergy
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 coloring of 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
Common Allergy Causing Foods
Food allergies or food intolerance’s affect nearly everyone at some point. People often have an unpleasant reaction to something they ate and wonder if they have a food allergy. various type of food allergies are as follows:-
- Milk Allergy. If you suffer from a milk allergy, strictly avoiding milk and food containing milk and milk products is the only way to prevent a reaction, which can include immediate wheezing, vomiting, and hives.
- Egg Allergy. Egg allergies, especially to egg whites are more common in children than in adults and reactions range from mild to severe.
- Wheat Allergy. If you are allergic to any wheat protein strictly avoiding wheat and wheat products is the only way to prevent a reaction, which can include stomach upset, eczema, allergic rhinitis, bronchospasm (asthma-like symptoms) and even anaphylaxis.
- Nut (Peanut) Allergy. If you suffer from a nut allergy, strictly avoiding nuts, including peanuts and tree nuts like cashews and walnuts, and food containing nuts is the only way to prevent a reaction.
- Fish Allergy. If your doctor is able to identify exactly which type of fish causes your allergies, than you only need to eliminate that species of fish from your diet. For the majority of fish allergy sufferers, this is not an option and all fish must be avoided.
- Shellfish Allergy. Learn about shellfish allergies and which foods to avoid.
- Sulfite Allergy. Sulfites are a group of sulfur-based compounds that may occur naturally or may be added to food as an enhancer and preservative. The FDA estimates that one out of 100 people is sensitive to the compounds.
- Soy Allergy. Soy allergies start with soybeans. Soybeans are legumes. Other foods in the legume family include navy beans, kidney beans, string beans, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas (garbanzo or chichi beans), lentils, carob, licorice, and peanuts.
- Casein Allergy. If a glass of milk or a slice of pizza causes swollen lips, hives, or other significant symptoms, you may have an allerg to casein, a protein in milk
Tests for Food Allergy.
After taking your history, your allergist may order skin tests and/or blood tests, whicha re as follows:-
- Skin-prick tests. These tests provide results in about 20 minutes. A liquid containing a tiny amount of the food allergen is placed on the skin of your arm or back. Your skin is pricked with a small, sterile probe, allowing the liquid to seep under the skin. The test, which isn’t painful but can be uncomfortable, is considered positive if a wheal (resembling the bump from a mosquito bite) develops at the site where the suspected allergen was placed. As a control, you’ll also get a skin prick with a liquid that doesn’t contain the allergen; this should not provoke a reaction, allowing comparison between the two test sites.
- Blood tests. These tests 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.
Treatment of Food Allergy.
The only way to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid the foods that cause signs and symptoms. Carefully check ingredient labels of food products, and learn whether what you need to avoid is known by other names. Avoiding an allergen is easier said than done. While labeling 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. Allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy may disappear over time, while allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to be lifelong.