What we need to know about Food Allergy

Understanding the seriousness of food allergy is a must not just because it has no cure but allergies can occur even the first time you eat a food. According to medical experts children can outgrow their food allergies but in some cases they can return later in life, however, when adults get food allergies it usually do not just go away.

Food allergy is an unusual immunological reaction that is triggered after eating a certain food. The allergens enter the bloodstreams which induce different symptoms which appear within a few minutes or so after eating the offending food. In some people allergic reactions can be mild and can easily be treated with prescribed anti-allergy medicines, but on the other hand, there are cases which it can be life threatening that is when the allergen affects many body systems that causes severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. Peanuts, other nuts and seafood are the most common triggers for anaphylaxis.

The most common food allergy symptoms include:

  • Itching or stinging in the mouth
  • Skin irritation or hives, swelling, atopic dermatitis
  • Swelling on some parts of the body such as lips, face, tongue including the throat
  • Breathing difficulty, sneezing, runny nose
  • Vomiting, abdominal pain which at times accompanied with diarrhea
  • Nausea, dizziness, fainting

List of protein foods that can trigger allergies are as follows:

  • Eggs
  • Milk (cow’s milk for children)
  • Peanuts, walnuts, pecans and other tree nuts
  • Sea food such as shrimp, shellfish, lobster, crab and in some cases even fish
  • wheat

It is important to know the medical history of your family in order to prevent food allergy. As there is no standard test to rule out a food allergy, your attending doctor will consider a lot of tests such as physical examination, symptoms, family history, eating again the food you last ate through oral food challenge done in the doctor’s clinic, skin prick test to determine if the suspected food caused the allergic reaction although skin prick test cannot fully confirm a food allergy you may be asked to undergo an elimination diet to determine its cause before making a diagnosis. Additionally, checking the amount of allergy-type antibodies in your blood stream through blood test is also considered to come up with an accurate diagnosis if you’re allergic to a food or the symptoms are caused by something else.

The key to prevent an allergic reaction is through dietary avoidance.

  • Always read food labels to make sure they don’t contain an ingredient you’re allergic to.
  • Bear in mind that even a small amount of food can cause severe reactions, so when attending social gatherings or eating at restaurants don’t eat certain foods when in doubt.
  • If your child has a food allergy, notify his teachers as well as the school canteen.  It would be better if you can submit a medical certification about his food allergies to the school administrator.
  • It is primarily important to inform your child and other members of the family on the foods he is allergic to. Teach them to always be aware of what they’re eating or drinking and make a habit of always reading food labels and teach them to recognize signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
  • Have the medicines always available on hand, remember allergies especially severe reactions can be fatal if not treated quickly.