A Complete Guide On Food Allergy

If you are allergic to some food, your immune system will react soon after eating them. Even a small amount of that specific food causes symptoms like hives, digestive problems, swollen airways, etc. 

In some cases, food allergy causes severe symptoms or attain a life-threatening form called anaphylaxis. 

Children are generally more susceptible to allergies than men. According to a recent survey, food allergy affects 6-8% of children under the age of 3. The percentage of adults affected is under 3%. 

Most people think food allergies are with food intolerance because of the common symptoms. 1st let us first discuss the difference between the two. 

Difference Between A Food Allergy And Food Intolerance

The main symptoms of food allergy and food intolerance may be similar, but they are two entirely different conditions.

Intolerances such as celiac intolerance or lactose intolerance can make you fall ill.

Food allergies, on the other hand, can not only make you feel ill but also can lead to a lethal reaction called anaphylaxis. 

When the body cannot digest food properly or makes the digestive tract irritable, this condition is called food intolerance. 

Symptoms of food intolerance include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nervousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability

Causes Of Food Intolerance:

  • Recurring stress
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Absence of an enzyme

 

  • Celiac disease
  • Susceptibilities to food additives

Food allergy starts when the immune system of a person identifies food as a foreign intruder and starts creating antibodies for them. The immune system generates a response in which adequate levels of histamine release in the body.

We shall discuss everything about food allergies later in this article. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Food Allergy?

These symptoms can be mild to severe and are different for different persons. Have a look at some of the common warning signs and symptoms of food allergy:

  • Nausea
  • Wheezing 
  • Diarrhea
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Streaming eyes
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Skin rash or itching
  • Swollen lips or face 
  • Inflammation in mouth or lips

When food allergy gets a server or reaches the anaphylaxis state, you can experience the following symptoms:

What Triggers Food Allergy?

Most common foods to trigger allergic reactions in children:

  • Milk
  • Soya
  • Wheat
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts

Most common foods that trigger allergic reactions in adults:

  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Lobster
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts)
  • Prawns 
  • Crab

Common allergens that cause almost 90% of the food allergies are as follows:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Wheat
  • Soya
  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts from trees (almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, etc.)

How Are Food Allergies Diagnosed?

Before taking any test, the doctor will talk with you, asking the symptoms you are experiencing, probable allergen, the type of food, and the place you have consumed it. If you already have some allergy, kindly tell your doctor as it could create some future complications. 

Following tests are available for the diagnosis of food allergies:

  • Blood Test

The doctor takes a small sample of blood and checks for the presence of IgE antibodies that are explicit to some food proteins. 

  • Skin Prick Test

In this test, the doctor places diluted foods on the patient’s arm. The site is then pierced to provide the food into the system. 

If you get some reactions like swelling, itching, or redness of the skin, there is a significant chance of an allergy.

  • Food Diary

The patient creates a list of food items he consumes and the type of symptoms he experiences.

 

  • Elimination Diet

In this, you avoid the suspected foods for at least 4-6 weeks. After this period, the doctor checks if the symptoms got relieved.

The suspected foods are again included in your diet to analyze if the symptoms return. 

  • Oral-food Challenge

This method is more precise than any other diagnosis alternative. The patient is provided with many different foods. A small amount of suspected food allergen is placed on one of those foods. The patient then consumes each of them one at a time, and the doctor notes the reactions caused.

How Can You Prevent Food Allergies?

If your child is at a high risk of getting affected with allergy due to genetic conditions, be extra cautious. You can prevent the peanut allergy by introducing peanuts at a very early age(4-6 months).

If you already have some allergy, follow these instructions:

  • Read labels and choose the food carefully.
  • If you are not able to communicate the problem of your previous food allergy, wear a medical alert bracelet and let people know about the condition.
  • Whenever you visit a restaurant, let the waiter or the chef know about the foods with which you are allergic. Convey your requirements clearly to the staff and get helped in the most efficient manner. 
  • Plan your snacks and meals. 

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