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Food allergies

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Food allergies are common mostly in children although adults can also experience an allergic response on eating a particular type of food. It leads to rashes, itching and similar other allergic symptoms which could range from mild to severe.


Symptoms of food allergy

Common symptoms are: 

  • Red itchy rashes all over the skin – eczema or hives
  • Itching in and around the mouth and throat
  • Swelling in face, lips, tongue, hands and other body parts
  • Loose motions, nausea, vomiting, dizziness
  • Stomach cramps

People who are overly sensitive to certain foods and get severe allergy can experience fainting and shortness of breath.


Causes of food allergy

As the name suggests, such allergies are triggered only by food and nothing else and therefore should not be confused with food poisoning, food intolerance, or any other similar conditions.

Food allergies are usually triggered by: 

  • Eggs
  • Gluten rich foods like wheat
  • Sea fish like shrimp, crab, lobster, prawns
  • Milk
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts- peanuts, walnut, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews

Food allergy occurs when your immune system mistakenly recognizes the proteins present in the foods harmful to your body, as a result the immune cells release histamines to knock out the allergens and you suffer from allergy.

When to see a doctor

If you observe the aforementioned symptoms, then do not delay for seeking medical help.


Complications of food allergy

A serious case of food allergy can trigger an anaphylactic reaction which is life threatening. The individual would get chocked due to narrowing of the airways and severe swelling in throat. Blood pressure drops rapidly and pulse rate goes high which calls for a medical emergency.


Diagnosis of food allergy

Your doctor will physically evaluate the symptoms and then check your food history, like- which foods you have eaten lately and how much you have eaten, etc.  

Following this, you need to undergo two tests designed for food allergy, viz. blood test and skin-prick test. Blood test is done to measure the load of antibodies produced due to the immune response while skin prick test helps to identify the food allergen. During a skin prick test, a standard amount of food extracts are placed on your arm and then it is priced with a needle so that the particles come in contact with your skin. If a reaction occurs, then allergy towards that particular food is confirmed.


Treatment of food allergies

Once your doctor has figured out the food you are allergic to, then that food would be eliminated from your diet.

Anti histamine tablets are generally given to combat the allergy. In case of an emergency and severe outbreak your doctor would give you epinephrine shot. You will be retained in hospital and IV drip and oxygen might be needed.

Your doctor would also give you an epinephrine autoinjector for using it under emergency circumstances and therefore, you must know how to use it.


Managing and living with food allergy

Many children outgrow food allergy with age. Nonetheless, you need to be careful. Follow the instructions below: 

  • You can apply some cold compress over the allergies to pacify the itching and redness
  • You must let your child know the food type he is allergic to. Give him instructions about not eating that food
  • You need to teach your kid to “Always ask, when in doubt” or simply say “No” to that food when offered
  • Always check the food labels before eating and cross check the ingredients while eating out at restaurants

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: July 03, 2014

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