A food allergy is an immune system response that happens immediately after consuming a particular meal. A relatively small quantity of allergenic food can result in symptoms like gastrointestinal problems, rashes or expanded airways. A food allergy may in some cases result in severe symptoms or even a life-threatening reaction known as Anaphylaxis. An allergy develops when your body’s natural defenses overreact after being exposed to a certain substance, viewing it as an invader and releasing chemicals to defend against it. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies of some sort. Most likely, you either know or are one of those folks.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies are estimated to affect 4% to 6% of children and 4% of adults. Food allergy symptoms are most frequent in children and babies, but they can appear at any age. When a person has a food allergy, their immune system responds to specific food proteins as if they were dangerous germs.
What Causes Food Allergies?
When you have a food allergy, your immune system interprets a particular food or a component of food as being dangerous. In response, your immune system triggers cells to release an antibody known as Immunoglobulin E (IgE) to neutralize the allergy-causing food substance. The majority of food allergies are brought on by specific proteins:
- Crustacean shellfish such as lobster, shrimp and crab
- Cow’s milk
- Chicken eggs
- Pollen-food allergy syndrome
Many hay fever sufferers have pollen food allergy syndrome, often called oral allergy syndrome. In this condition, certain vegetables and fresh fruits or spices and nuts can trigger an allergic reaction that causes the mouth to tingle or itch. In extreme circumstances, the reaction might cause swelling in the throat or even Anaphylaxis. Proteins in certain vegetables, fruits, spices and nuts cause the reaction because they’re similar to allergy-causing proteins found in certain pollen.
- Exercise intolerance and other reactions
Some people may experience itching and dizziness shortly after eating specific foods and beginning to exercise. Serious cases may even involve Anaphylaxis or Hives. Avoiding particular foods and waiting a couple of hours after eating to exercise will help avoid this issue.
- Food intolerance and other reactions
The same signs and symptoms of a food allergy may also be caused by food intolerance or a reaction to another substance you consumed- such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and cramping. Depending on the kind of food intolerance you have, you might be able to consume modest quantities of problematic foods without experiencing a reaction. The following are common illnesses whose symptoms can mimic those of a food allergy:
- Food poisoning
- Sensitivity to food additives
- lack of an enzyme necessary for thorough food digestion
- Celiac disease
- Histamine toxicity
Symptoms of Food Allergy
Some people’s allergic reactions to certain foods may be uncomfortable but not life-threatening. For other people, an allergic food reaction can be life-threatening and even frightening. Food allergy symptoms commonly develop within a few minutes to 2 hours after eating the offending food. In rare cases, symptoms can not appear for several hours. Among the most common food allergy signs and symptoms include:
- Tingling or itching in the mouth
- Swelling of the face, lips, throat and tongue or other parts of the body
- Itching, hives or Eczema
- Nasal congestion, wheezing or trouble breathing
- Diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting or nausea
- Lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting
- A fast heartbeat is known as Tachycardia
- Streaming eyes and nose
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can occur as a result of a food allergy in some persons. This may result in symptoms and signs that are life-threatening, such as:
- shock accompanied by a sharp drop in blood pressure
- Tightening and constriction of the airways
- Breathing is made challenging by a swollen throat or the sense of a lump in your throat
- Rapid pulse
- Lightheadedness, dizziness or loss of consciousness
Treatment of Food Allergy
Avoiding the food that triggers a reaction has always been the best strategy to treat food allergies. Additionally, when signs of a response appear, they can be treated. Oral Immunotherapy is a relatively investigative and new way to manage food allergies. To raise the temperature at which a reaction occurs, the person must be exposed to an allergen at increasing doses. Oral Immunotherapy is not available for all foods, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a treatment for peanut allergy called Palforzia.
Elimination may entail not only abstaining from eating the particular food but also making sure to never touch, inhale or consume foods containing traces of it. Crockery, Cutlery, Chopping boards and Cooking surfaces may also need to be free of the allergen. A person may need to hunt for alternative sources of some nutrients while on an elimination diet. For instance, milk is a common source of protein and calcium, so people removing this from their diet will need to ensure that they get these nutrients from other foods. People will need to carefully study food and beverage labels. Pet foods, glues, soaps and adhesives may have traces of a food allergen. If you are in search of a dedicated and experienced food allergy doctor, look no further than Dr. Sheetu Singh. She is well-known for her knowledge in the field of allergology and has built a strong reputation for her dedication to and compassion for her patients.
- Medications for emergencies
In the event of an allergic reaction, the following medications are beneficial:-
- Antihistamines: These come in the form of liquids, gels or tablets. They are usually effective for people with moderate or mild food allergy symptoms. The majority of allergy symptoms are brought on by histamines, which antihistamines work to suppress.
- Epinephrine: This therapy is intended for people with food allergies who risk developing Anaphylaxis. Epinephrine raises blood pressure by tightening the blood vessels. The airways are also relaxed.