An allergy from food may not look like a problem for many of people. Only the surfer knows that how difficult is to live with having food allergies. Food is an integral part of life, without food there is no survival.
What if you are allergic to foods that you need for complete nutrition? Well, there are many things that you must know.
This article is a guideline on what are food allergies and what foods are most likely to cause an allergy in people. Read till the end to educate yourself on one of the leading allergens that we are facing today.
What are food allergies?
Allergy is a response of the body, which it shows when it finds something unusual. The immune system tries to defend the body by reacting abnormally whenever there is a suspicious particle inside the body. It is food and drink in case of food allergies but in other cases, it could be a chemical, dust, pollen or anything.
The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), tells that nearly 15 million Americans are suffering from food allergies. A huge number of which are children. It suggests that children are the most common victims of food allergies. Approximately every 1 in 13 kids have food allergies.
You never thought it was that common? Here is more to know.
Unlike the name may tell food allergy doesn’t necessarily affect the digestive system. It can affect skin, respiration or even the cardiovascular system too. There are many types of food that are capable of triggering an allergic response. Some specific foods have the highest potential to cause food allergy.
Following is a list of 8 most common foods that account for 90% of all food allergies. It includes the following.
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts
What are the common signs and symptoms of food allergies?
It is indeed an important question that how would you know that a food allergic attack is hitting you? The symptoms of food allergies are not specific; they may range from mild to severe in person to person. Also, they may show up all of a sudden or take several hours for showing up.
The reaction of the body towards an allergen doesn’t necessarily require an abundance of allergen. Even a small amount of allergen is sufficient to start an allergic reaction. In higher quantities of allergens, the symptoms and effects can be very dangerous and even life-threatening. It may affect respiration and disturbs breathing.
Food allergies can affect breathing and it is one of the most common representations of having an allergy. People that have asthma are at a high risk of having a fatal allergic reaction caused by food. Most of the people never assume allergies to be that destructive but in real terms, they are that damaging for health.
The common signs and symptoms of food allergies are as follows.
- A runny nose
- nasal congestion
- itchy and watery eyes
- rashes on the skin
- stomach cramps
- nausea and vomiting
The symptoms of a severe allergic reaction are intense. This type of reaction is called anaphylaxis. The symptoms of anaphylaxis are as follows.
- Disturbed breathing
- Swelling if lips, tongue and gums
- Having skin hives
- Acid reflux
- Nausea and vomiting
Most common food allergies
- Milk allergies
Milk allergies are the most widely studied type of food allergy. Having milk allergy means that a person is allergic to milk protein i.e. whey or casein. These proteins are found in cow’s milk.
Milk allergy and lactose intolerance are two different things and should not be confused with each other. Children are more likely to develop milk allergies. Having one type of food allergy sometimes causes the person to develop other types of food allergies as well.
- Egg allergies
Children are the most common victims of egg allergies. It can show up in younger ages and sometimes it is resolved at a younger age too. Only a few people remain allergic to eggs for whole life.
Having an egg allergy means that a person is allergic to a certain protein found in the egg. It is possible that he may eat egg white but is allergic to egg yolk or vice versa. Most of the egg allergy patients are allergic to both egg yolk and white. Therefore they cannot eat eggs or any dish that uses eggs.
- Peanut allergies
Peanut allergy is the most common allergy among all nuts. The cases of peanut allergies are much higher than allergy from groundnuts. It’s a lifelong problem, which usually shows up in early childhood.
Peanut allergy is not life-threatening but sometimes it can result in anaphylaxis. This is a severe type of allergic reaction that may restrict the breathing or cause a sudden cardiac arrest.
Anaphylaxis requires emergency medical care. In case of this type of allergic attack, the patient should be transported to the nearest healthcare provider. The patient is usually watched for several hours after giving anti-allergic treatment in an emergency for the possible re-occurrence of symptoms.
- Other common allergies
There are other food ingredients too that are evident to cause allergies. They include soy and wheat. There is little information available on fish, shellfish and tree nuts allergies but there are incidences that confirm them.
All these allergies caused by food are lifelong. They remain with you for whole life.
How to diagnose a food allergy?
Sometimes the symptoms of food allergies resemble common health problems i.e. common cold. It is difficult to diagnose them especially in children or during the initial allergic attacks.
The diagnose of food allergies is based on the symptoms and their severity level. In case of mild symptoms, the doctor will give you a small booklet to add everything that you eat and frequency of having allergic attacks. In this way, it is easier to remember which food caused an allergy in you.
For severe allergies, the skin and blood tests are taken to verify the allergen so that relevant precautions can be followed.
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What is the treatment for food allergies?
Like other types of allergies, there is no permanent treatment of food-related allergies. You may see medicines that say “anti-allergy” or “allergic relief” but these are not the treatment options. These medicines only help to overcome the symptoms of allergies by suppressing the body’s responses to them. Most of the times, these anti allergic tablets are antihistamines.
The best way to deal with a food allergy is to avoid the allergen. If you know that you are allergic to a certain food product, try to avoid consuming it or any recipe that uses it. be careful while you purchase products from superstores, read labels so that you can avoid your allergen.
If you happen to eat out at a restaurant, make sure that the dish you ordered doesn’t have any of the common food allergens that you are allergic. The mild symptoms of allergy don’t require any treatment at all.
But if you have to travel, attend a meeting or have an exam, one thing that you can try is the over the counter antihistamine tablets, sold as anti allergic tablets. They don’t require a prescription so you can purchase them easily.
If you are not sure which anti-allergic tablet is suitable for you, take help from a doctor and know about your options. If you know that you are severely allergic to multiple foods, always keep your anti allergic tablets with you. So that whenever there is a sudden attack of allergy, you don’t have to rush to the hospital.
For severe allergic patients, the doctors recommend using steroid medications. Steroids may sometimes bring serious side effects in users. It is better not to use them very often. Also, don’t use them for more than 2-3 days regularly to avoid an unwanted reaction.