Food Allergies

You might be surprised to learn that food allergies can start in adulthood and involve a food you’ve eaten without a problem for your entire life. For adults as well as kids, the top but not the only food culprits are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, wheat and soy, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Food allergy is an abnormal immune response to food. The symptoms of the allergic reaction may range from mild to severe. They may include itchiness, swelling of the tongue, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, trouble breathing, or low blood pressure. This typically occurs within minutes to several hours of exposure. When the symptoms are severe, it is known as anaphylaxis. A food intolerance and food poisoning are separate conditions, not due to an immune response.

The release of inflammatory chemicals

Common foods involved include cow’s milk, peanuts, eggs, shellfish, fish, tree nuts, soy, wheat, rice, and fruit. The common allergies vary depending on the country. Risk factors include a family history of allergies, vitamin D deficiency, obesity, and high levels of cleanliness. Allergies occur when immunoglobulin E (IgE), part of the body’s immune system, binds to food molecules.

A protein in the food is usually the problem. This triggers the release of inflammatory chemicals such as histamine Diagnosis is usually based on a medical history, elimination diet, skin prick test, blood tests for food-specific IgE antibodies, or oral food challenge. Early exposure to potential allergens may be protective. Management primarily involves avoiding the food in question and having a plan if exposure occurs.
This plan may include giving adrenaline (epinephrine) and wearing medical alert jewelry. The benefits of allergen immunotherapy for food allergies is unclear, thus is not recommended as of 2015. Some types of food allergies among children resolve with age, including that to milk, eggs, and soy; while others such as to nuts and shellfish typically do not.

Childhood food allergies

Just as with childhood food allergies, you’ll need to do your best to avoid these foods and be prepared in case you inadvertently come into contact with one of them. Hives or pale/bluish skin tone. Cramps and/or vomiting. Trouble swallowing or swelling of the tongue. Weak pulse. Feeling dizzy or faint. Shortness of breath, wheezing or coughing. Inability to breathe, and drop in blood pressure.

The most serious reaction is called anaphylaxis, an extreme inability to breathe that can lead to shock. It is a life-threatening emergency. Keep in mind that allergic reactions can be unpredictable. Most happen within a few hours of contact, but some are instantaneous. It could take only a small amount of the allergen to cause swelling, hives or anaphylaxis.
Also, your body could experience more than one type of reaction your skin, gastrointestinal tract, heart and/or breathing could be affected. So it’s important to call your doctor and ask about testing after any out-of-the-ordinary reaction to a particular food. If possible, write down what you ate, how soon after ward symptoms started and how long they lasted.
Allergy testing usually involves a combination of skin pricks and blood tests. Sometimes there may be a workaround. For instance, if a raw fruit or vegetable causes a reaction, you may be able to eat the food cooked because, for some people, heat neutralizes the allergen.