Each year, more than 500 people around the world lose their lives to some or other type of allergies. Let’s learn about food allergy and its common symptoms in order to be well aware of it.
Allergy is a condition which results when our body’s immune system fails in differentiating harmful and harmless substances. As a consequence, it reacts against potentially harmless substances leading to an uncomfortable health condition. Antibodies like IgE are specifically associated with allergic reactions. In this article we will learn about one of the most common types of allergy called food allergy.
At least 2-3% of the world’s population suffers from some kind of food allergy. In the United States, a large population (as large as 15 million) is prone to food allergies. According to the report of the National Institutes of Health Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research (in the US), an estimated total of 9 million of adults suffer from food allergies, whereas this number amounts to around 6 million in children. The young population is affected more severely.
What is Food Allergy
As mentioned above, some specific food substance causes adverse reactions in our body and it is termed as allergy. Our immune system starts showing an abnormal response and fails to recognize the harmless food substance. It interprets the substance’s existence in our body in similar fashion as it interprets the existence of virus, bacteria or any other foreign substance and starts taking action against the harmless substance.
As food allergy or hypersensitivity is caused due to the immune system, most of the symptoms include reactions related to our nervous system. Some of the symptoms are as given below:
- People might start vomiting after eating the food that causes allergy to their body.
- The reaction might lead to a sudden rise of itchy hives on the skin, making the patient irritatingly scratch the skin.
- The reaction also may lead to swelling in different organs of the body. The organs may also get damaged, worsening the situation further.
- Some people experience problems related to respiratory and digestive systems.
- Along with the above-mentioned symptoms, people also experience nausea, cough, wheezing, diarrhea, metallic taste and problems with the throat, and stomach problems.
- If the condition is more serious, people may experience anaphylactic reaction of varying intensity (which can be very mild to life-threatening) in their bodies in or across the various organs. The anaphylactic reaction is a very severe and sudden reaction in which multiple problems may occur which include all the above-mentioned symptoms along with low blood pressure, breathing problem, etc.
Common Substances Causing Food Allergy
- Tree nuts
Although, any type of food can cause allergy in people, generally foods like fish, crab, lobsters, various types of tree nuts, and shellfish, etc. cause allergies in adults. On the other hand, egg, soy, milk, peanuts, etc., are common causes of allergies in children.
How to Find Out if You Have Food Allergy
After eating some food, if you experience any of the symptoms enlisted above, then you should first check if you have food allergy. Sometimes it might happen that something you eat may contain more than one type of food, which might lead to confusion in deciding which food you are allergic to. In this case, you should be careful enough not to eat any of the ingredients that you had eaten earlier, and should avoid eating anything till you don’t consult a good physician.
Tests and Treatment Options
Your doctor might ask you about the various symptoms that you have experienced and also may inquire about the food that you had eaten. Your doctor may also ask you about your history of allergies or symptoms that you might have experienced previously.
Your doctor may decide to go for some diagnostic tests like skin test, blood test or even try to test the allergic reaction by making you eat very small quantity of the food you had consumed. These diagnostic tests can uncover the allergic condition and the food you are allergic to.
Based on the results of diagnostic tests, your doctor might prescribe you certain medications or suggest you some schedule that you need to follow in order to avoid any more complications of food allergy.
Besides following the medication, you also need to be very careful about what you eat. You should never take a chance with the food you are allergic to. Remember, your body might only show mild reactions to the food you are allergic to, but it also can lead to a very severe condition such as failure of organs, unconsciousness or death.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.