Food allergy is a very common term. It ranges from mild to severe reactions. Yet, many people don’t regard food allergies as a serious medical condition.
But here’s a shocker. Food allergies can be life-threatening. A whopping 10 percent of adults, approximately 32 million Americans, have food allergies.
According to FARE (Food Allergies Resource), one individual lands in the emergency room every 3 minutes. Why? It’s all because of food allergies.
Over 200,000 Americans require emergency care each year because of food allergies. These figures should tell you how serious food allergies are.
This post contains information about food allergies that will help you make an informed decision. So keep reading to learn more.
What Food Allergies Is
Before we go deeper, let’s define food allergies. What do they imply?
Food allergy refers to a medical condition where exposure to a certain type of food causes a harmful immune response.
Allergic reaction is also known as immune response. It happens when the immune system attacks the food’s proteins, even though they’re harmless.
Another popular term in food allergies is allergens. Allergens refer to the protein that triggers the allergic reaction when one consumes certain types of food.
A Handy Tip: Anaphylaxis is a more deadly food allergy. It develops suddenly and can lead to death if not treated on time.
Food allergies can affect children and adults. So parents and teachers must enlighten children about this medical condition, including how to avoid it.
Furthermore, people with asthma and food allergies are more likely to experience a deadlier or fatal reaction.
Can You Cure Food Allergies?
Not every medical condition has a cure. Unfortunately, food allergies are one of them. You can only manage the condition.
How do you manage food allergies? It’s simple. Know the symptoms and seek medical help immediately.
Certain foods cause food allergies. And most fatal allergic reactions develop from food consumed outside.
If you want to manage an allergy, you have to take a stand. Avoid food that can trigger the condition.
Be enlightened enough to recognize an allergic reaction and seek medical help on time. It will help you to overcome the condition.
Though there’s no known cure for food allergies, research is on the way to develop effective therapies. We are only hoping that the cure will be available in no distant time.
What Causes Food Allergies
Understand that all foods can cause an allergic reaction. The only difference is that some are more likely to cause an allergic reaction than others.
So, what causes food allergies? The immune system, regarded as the body’s defense against diseases and infections, is responsible for allergic reactions.
How does our immune system cause allergic reactions? When you consume certain foods, the immune system may view the proteins as a treat and attack them with the hope of protecting the individual.
While attacking the harmless proteins, the immune system releases several chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the allergic reactions that people suffer.
Now, let’s mention foods that are more likely to cause an allergic reaction.
- Tree nuts
- Certain fruits
- Certain vegetables
The Different Kinds Of Food Allergies
Food allergies have different types. And knowing each of them can prove helpful in your quest to avoid the disease or educate others about it.
However, each allergy depends on several factors, such as when the reaction took place and its symptoms.
The IgE-mediated food allergy:
This food allergy is the most common of all three allergic reactions. It’s a product of the immune system’s action. The immune system produces immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody that triggers this allergic reaction.
Symptoms of the IgE-mediated food allergy occur super fast. One may start experiencing it some seconds or minutes after consuming the food.
This reaction may be the most common but can be lethal. There’s a possibility of one developing anaphylaxis.
Non-IgE-mediated food allergy:
The second type of food allergy is non-IgE-mediated. The ‘non-’ there means it doesn’t have any relationship with immunoglobulin E. In other words, immunoglobulin E isn’t responsible for allergic reactions.
So, what causes this type of food allergic reaction? It’s the cells present in the immune system. Again, diagnosing this type of food allergy is quite challenging. The symptoms can even take several hours to become visible.
A Handy Tip: The difference between the IgE-mediated allergic reaction and non-IgE-mediated is that the former produces symptoms after one consumes the food. But the latter takes several hours for the symptoms to become evident. It can even take up to 48 hours.
The only similarity between both types of food allergies is that the immune system is responsible for both reactions.
Mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediated:
These involve food allergic reactions caused by IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated mechanisms. Some individuals may even develop symptoms from both food allergies.
A Handy Tip: Anaphylaxis is a more severe allergic reaction caused by food. The outcome can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis symptoms include difficulty breathing, feeling faint or dizzy, and trouble speaking or swallowing.
This food allergic reaction can happen to anyone out of the blue. And it’s best to have someone around when it occurs so that they can take the patient to the hospital for medical attention. Otherwise, the person’s health could go from bad to worse.
Food Allergies: What Are The Symptoms?
Allergy signs vary from person to person. Most people may also not experience all of the symptoms you’re about reading below.
Allergy symptoms range from mild to severe. Remember, we also mentioned that this medical condition could be life-threatening.
Here are the symptoms that indicate that you have a food allergy and need medical help.
- Runny nose
- Facial swelling
- Streaming eyes
- Hives (skin rash)
- Tingling in your mouth
- Burning sensation (mouth and lips)
It’s important to note that anaphylaxis symptoms differ from that of common food allergies. Anaphylaxis is a more severe form of this medical condition.
The allergic reaction occurs after one has exposed himself or herself to a specific allergen. However, symptoms of anaphylaxis don’t just show up within a couple of seconds or minutes. It could take several hours.
Here Are Anaphylaxis Symptoms:
- Tickly and itchy noise
- Loss of consciousness
- Faster heartbeat
- Streaming eyes and nose
- Sudden reduction in one’s blood pressure
- Respiratory issues, which includes shortness of breath and wheezing
Food Allergy: Who’s At Higher Risk?
A food allergy doesn’t affect a specific age group. It affects everyone. These include children, adults.
However, not everyone will have food allergies in their lifetime. Keep that in mind. It’s also crucial to know that certain factors can cause reactions to develop in most people.
Let’s consider these factors.
Can food allergies run in the family? The answer is yes. If your parents or grandparents have it, there’s a chance you can also have this medical condition.
An allergic condition triggering others:
If a child has an allergy, the child could develop another. It could be seasonal allergies, asthma, and even food allergies.
Changes in gut bacteria:
Research has shown that gut bacteria play a crucial role in food allergies. Research has also shown that individuals battling seasonal or nut allergies have their gut bacteria altered. However, the good news is scientists are working hard to figure out if amending the gut bacteria can prevent or fix allergies.
How the child was born:
A research has proven that children born via cesarean sessions are far more likely to have food allergies.
Note: If you have fears that your child may develop food allergies, all you have to do is introduce him or her to one of the allergens. An example is peanuts. By so doing, the child’s risk of developing food allergies later in life would reduce.
Best Way To Treat Food Allergies
Symptoms of mild allergic reactions vary from person to person. You can have itchy skin, hives, upset stomach, or tingling of your lips and mouth.
It would help if you also were very careful, as most of the symptoms mentioned may indicate an early sign of anaphylaxis.
So, what can someone do to avoid or treat food allergies? Here are a couple of home remedies you can try.
Is your body reacting to certain food that you ate? Do you still eat that food? If yes, then you’re only going to make matters worse.
If you observe that certain foods make you feel uncomfortable, don’t continue eating them. Don’t try to consume more of that particular food, all in the name of testing. It will only aggravate the condition.
In essence, what we’re trying to say is to avoid foods you’re allergic to. Continuous exposure when recovering from an allergic reaction can make the condition worse than it already is.
There’s a reason most people take Benadryl for itching and hives (two food allergy symptoms). The drug helps to lessen the effect of the symptoms.
So, if you’re dealing with a mild allergic reaction, taking over-the-counter antihistamines may prove helpful.
Anaphylaxis is a more severe food allergy. No over-the-counter antihistamine medication can solve this reaction. Only an epinephrine injection can reverse it.
This old practice of the Chinese has shown great promise in the treatment of several medical conditions. These range from chronic pains to weight loss.
Several sources claim that acupuncture may help to treat food allergies. But then, more research would be necessary to confirm these claims.
Food Allergies: Why Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Food allergies can be life-threatening. Don’t think you can eat anything since antihistamine drugs or epinephrine treat mild and severe reactions.
The best way to fight food allergies is to prevent them. Since you’re lucky enough to know the foods you’re allergic to, start making a serious effort to avoid them.
Are you unsure of the foods your body reacts to, and you care to find out? It’s very simple.
You can inform your doctor about it. You only have to undergo various tests to know food and other substances that can trigger an allergic reaction in your body.
Here are other simple steps that you can take to prevent food allergies.
Don’t just gobble down anything you come across, be it food or drinks. Please read the labels on each canned food or drink before consuming them. If you find any ingredient that can trigger an allergic reaction, don’t consume that food. Even if you’re hungry and that’s the only food around, try to hold back your hunger. It’s better to stay hungry for a while than eat something that could trigger a reaction and land you in the emergency care room.
Ask questions about a food’s constituents:
Ask questions before eating if you’re not sure of their constituents. You can ask the cook or other employees at the restaurant for clues. If they can’t provide a clear answer, don’t eat the food.
Let everyone people around know about your allergy:
An allergy isn’t a medical condition to be shy of. Therefore, there’s no point in keeping it a secret. If the people around you know you’re an allergy sufferer, they will know how to help whenever the reaction strikes.
Let the doctor know about every allergic reaction:
Your last allergic reaction was mild, and you were able to overcome it. That’s great! But please, for your health’s and wellbeing’s sake, always inform your doctor. It doesn’t matter if the condition has been managed or not. You may not be lucky when the reaction strikes next time.
You have read and seen the definition, causes, types, and ways to treat food allergies. By now, you also know that food allergies can be life-threatening.
Allergic reactions are not something anyone should toy with. When it strikes, it can send an individual to the emergency room.
An effective way to avoid food allergic reactions is to stay away from foods and substances that can trigger the condition. If you also have food allergies, seek medical help.
Finally, if you’re unsure of the foods that you’re allergic to, then approach your doctor for help. You will need a series of tests to figure that out.