The number of young people with food allergies has risen over the last decade. It is estimated that food allergies affect four to eight per cent of children and about two percent of adults.
Children with food allergies are more prone to have eczema, asthma and other types of allergies. It seems necessary to educate ourselves on the matter. Read on and learn things you need to know about food allergy.
From merely irritating to life threatening- the range of food allergic responses is wide. Most allergic reactions are simply uncomfortable. However, a small percentage of people have severe reactions that can put their lives in danger. Moreover, symptoms that appear to be allergies may indicate other serious health issues.
So knowing basic things about food allergies seems to be necessary. This kind of knowledge can save somebody’s life.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is a particular kind of unwanted food reaction that involves the immune system. The body produces an allergic, or immunoglobulin E, antibody to a food. An allergic reaction appears the moment a specific food is consumed and binds with the antibody.
Food intolerance vs. food allergy
A number of people believe they have a food allegry when in fact they have food intolerance. What’s the difference between these two conditions?
First of all, food intolerance refers to an abnormal response to a particular food or additive. It is different from an allergy, however, as it doesn’t involve the immune system. One of the most common examples is lactose intolerance.
People who suffer from this condition often claim that they have a milk allergy. In fact, their recurring gastrointestinal problems when they drink milk may stem from intolerance. What’s more, food allergies pose a much bigger risk because they can result in life-threatening reactions.
It has been reported that more than 160 different foods cause allergies. Because food allergies show patterns of consumption, they differ in other countries. There are eight major allergens listed in the United States.
- Tree nuts (almonds, waluts, and cashews)
- Shellfish (crab, lobster, and shrimp)
In Europe the list also includes celery and mustard.
Symptoms of food allergies
The first signs and symptoms of an allergic response to a certain type of food develop within an hour after eating the food. These are the most common ones:
– abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting
– skin rash or itching
– trouble breathing
– swollen lips, tongue, throat or other parts of the body
– dizziness or fainting
In case of anaphylaxis, which is a strong allergic reaction, more extreme versions of the above symptoms may appear. These incluse such serious ones as irregular pulse, loss of consciousness, a dramatic drop in blood pressure or swelling of the air passages that makes it hard to breathe.
Is there a cure for food allergies?
Studies have shown that some food allergies can be outgrown and their severity can change throughout a person’s life. But according to Stefano Luccioli, M.D., senior medical advisor in the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Food Additive Safety, no cure for food allergies exists.
The best way for consumers to protect themselves is by avoiding food items that will cause a reaction,
Consumers who have food allergies need to be ready for unintentional exposures. They should protect themselves by wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace which states that they have an allergy.
It’s also a good idea to get and carry an auto-injector device with epinephrine (adrenaline) that they can give to themselves in case of an allergic reation or to seek medical help immediately.