Facts About Food Allergies That Will Blow Your Mind

We’ll teach you all about what food allergies are and how they affect your body and give you a list of some common ones with their symptoms.

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If you suspect a food allergy, the first thing to do is see your doctor. PHOTO via @Healthline/19 April 2021

It’s important to avoid foods that cause food allergies at all costs. Some people are so allergic to certain foods that just the tiniest amount of contact (sometimes even the smell) can cause a severe reaction. But if you’re not sure what your specific allergies are, how can you tell?

We’ll teach you all about what food allergies are and how they affect your body and give you a list of some common ones with their symptoms. We’ll also give you some tips on ways to avoid those foods. This should clear it up for most people.

Rebecca F., Health Consultant at MyOnlineHealthCourse has the following to say and recommend.

Food allergies are a response by your body’s immune system (the part that fights off disease and infection) to foods that you normally eat. It is usually caused by IgE antibodies. These antibodies are produced by the white blood cells that protect the body from foreign substances.

When the antibodies identify the food as “foreign,” it causes lots of different reactions in your body:

The most severe reaction is anaphylactic shock, also called anaphylaxis. They can cause this within seconds or minutes of eating a food you’re allergic to. This causes a sudden drop in blood pressure and airway swelling up, which can be life-threatening or cause disability and even death.

These antibodies also cause allergic rhinitis. This is when the tissues around the nose, ears, throat, and eyes get swollen. This can cause symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchiness in the nose and throat, as well as pain in the ears and eyes!

The less severe reactions can be milder versions of the above or other symptoms. These symptoms include swelling of your lips or throat area (called angioedema), hives (swelling of your skin that are itchy and bumpy), stomach pain, vomiting or diarrhoea (see our article on food poisoning for more information on this).

You may experience more than one reaction at a time.

Your body’s allergen (the trigger) needs to be something you regularly eat. If it’s something new, like a new spice or food, it will have to become familiar to your body in a certain amount of time before you start developing an allergy. This will vary depending on the reaction.

Food Allergies – Causes

Once your body has become sensitized to a certain food, you can get an auto-immune reaction where the immune system attacks itself! This is called “food-induced autoimmunity.” This can weaken your immune system so that other things like bacteria and viruses can cause more serious diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (both Colitis).

There are many different types of food allergies, but people usually have one main type of allergy. For example, you can be allergic to only peanuts or grapes or fish. You can also be allergic to several foods at the same time. It’s also possible to develop a food allergy, such as peanut allergy, at any age and even if you’ve been eating these foods for a long time.

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Allergies are most common in children under the age of three years old and in people over 40 years old.

Reactions can vary from mild to severe based on how much of a certain food was eaten and how long the person has been allergic before they were diagnosed. The reaction can also vary in severity based on the person. Some people get mild symptoms, and others may show no symptoms at all until the reaction is much worse.

It’s not always easy to figure out what’s causing your allergic reaction. Your doctor will help you figure out what you’re allergic to by using a skin prick test or food challenge (explained below). They will take a tiny amount of the food you think you’re allergic to and place it on your skin or feed it to you.

Either way, this will cause an instant reaction if you are really allergic to it! Then they will perform tests by removing certain foods from your diet for a period of time before giving them back one at a time again (food challenges).

Food Allergy Symptoms

If you think you have a food allergy, don’t panic. You can still have a great life! You just need to be aware. That way, when you eat your favorite foods, you’ll know what foods to watch out for and how to avoid them.

But in order to do this, we’re going to first discuss the typical symptoms of many different types of food allergies.

Reactions and symptoms vary by the type of food and how long you’ve been allergic before your doctor starts giving you tests. I describe each possible reaction below and give examples of some possible symptoms each one might cause. These are just general descriptions. Your own reactions may vary from person to person.

Immune-Mediated Anaphylaxis

This is the most severe reaction of all. It’s a sudden drop in blood pressure and airway swelling up. This causes a very rapid drop in blood pressure because the airways cannot contract at all. This means they can no longer close off from outside air, so you will not be able to breathe.

You may pass out within minutes or you may die from this condition, which is called anaphylactic shock.

Allergic Contact Urticaria

This is a skin rash that usually starts out as hives (called urticaria) or sometimes itchy bumps which are red, raised and irritated. These reactions look like little weals with red areas below the surface of the skin. They may itch or may not itch at all.

This allergic reaction can also cause symptoms such as swelling (angioedema) of your lips, throat, ears, eyes, nose and even face.

Food Protein-induced Enterocolitis Syndrome

This is an uncomfortable reaction that affects your gut and causes stomach pain, diarrhoea or vomiting. This often occurs after a child has eaten milk protein at a young age.

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This is a skin condition that often occurs before food allergies. The most common symptoms are itching, redness and dry skin areas. The rash usually affects the hands, feet, knees and elbows. The rash can be itchy or dry, and may even crack open or bleed easily.

Atopic Dermatitis

This is a form of eczema that affects only the skin of your face, neck, scalp and hands/arms/legs (sometimes). Symptoms include tightness in your skin (sometimes), swelling or redness (sometimes), itchy spots with or without mild blisters (sometimes) or acne-like breakouts on your face (sometimes).

Delayed Food Allergy

Many children begin reacting to foods before the age of 5 or 6. The reason for this is the child’s immune system is not mature enough to react strongly to all of the different foods that are out there.

This means that even if you’re allergic, it may take longer for you to start reacting than it does for your sibling or friend who is not allergic.

If you find yourself reacting after the age of 5 or 6, then you have a delayed food allergy. This is not a common reaction, but if you have it, then you can expect to reach for life.

Food Allergy Triggers

The most common trigger is eating eggs. About 90 per cent of children are allergic to eggs. Other allergy triggers include milk, nuts and wheat. There are other foods you might react to as well; however, these are the most commonly linked foods in food allergies.

Atopic Dermatitis

This is a form of eczema that affects only the skin of your face, neck, scalp and hands/arms/legs (sometimes). This form of dermatitis (or eczema) is not usually linked to food allergies.

What Should You Do?

If you suspect a food allergy, the first thing to do is see your doctor. The paediatrician will ask for a medical history and perform a physical exam. These are normal procedures, but then the paediatrician will likely order an allergy test.

Allergy tests include blood and skin tests that should be completed by an allergist (or immunologist).

Remember, only a dermatologist can diagnose eczema and prescribe treatment. If your skin doctor suspects an allergy is causing the problem, she or he might request that you see an allergist as well.

If the allergy tests do confirm a food allergy, what you should eat next is straightforward. The best thing to do is to avoid eating anything that causes the reaction. Sometimes this is not an option (especially with a baby or toddler). If you suspect an allergy, then talk to your paediatrician about possible treatments for your child.

When it comes to eczema, traditional therapy focuses on treating the irritation and inflammation that occur after scratching and rubbing. Using moisturizers is important for reducing dryness and relieving itchiness.

Eczema sufferers who are struggling with their skin problems should consider seeing a dermatologist for a dry skin treatment or eczema treatment. As with other allergic reactions, these treatments involve recently developed, nonsurgical methods.

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Your doctor may also recommend that you avoid certain foods until you’ve had time to “unlearn” those allergies. This can take some time and patience. Don’t be afraid to ask your paediatrician for a referral if necessary and use the MyOnlineHealthCourse to research what you’re allergic too.

FAQs: Food allergies

If you have food allergies, it’s important to avoid those foods at all costs. Discuss with your doctor what foods you should avoid and if there are any tests you can take to determine the ones that are causing your symptoms.

Do I need an allergy doctor?

Yes. If you have food allergies, it’s recommended that you see an allergy doctor. These specialists will be able to develop a personalized plan for managing your symptoms and stopping harmful reactions.

Do other doctors treat food allergies?

Sometimes, yes. More and more doctors are being trained on how to treat food allergies but it’s still highly recommended that you see an allergy doctor.

How can I control my symptoms?

There are many different kinds of medication prescribed depending on the severity of your symptoms, but most often it’s usually steroids or antihistamines.

What kind of symptoms can I expect if I’m having a reaction?

If you’re going through a food allergy reaction, you may experience hives and swelling around your mouth. This is also common with dairy. If you feel your throat closing up or you’re having trouble breathing, it may be anaphylaxis, which is a severe reaction that can cause heart attack and death.

Occasionally people have food allergy reactions causing a drop in blood pressure or passing out, but this is very rare.

How would I know?

First of all, if you are going through one of these reactions, get to the ER immediately. Most people with food allergy reactions will experience some kind of physical symptoms such as swelling around the mouth or throat, hives or rashes on the skin, nausea, wheezing and vomiting.

Any change in how you’re feeling should be taken seriously and evaluated by your doctor as soon as possible.

What should I do if I think I’m having a reaction?

Get to the ER immediately. Do not drive yourself and call for an ambulance if you’re experiencing any changes in how you’re feeling. If you have an epinephrine auto-injector, use it right away and be sure to tell the hospital staff that you have food allergies.

That is all for this article, I hope you liked it and that it has been useful for you learning about food allergy, causes, triggers and treatment. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

We will answer it as soon as possible.

Musasi Isaac Christopher

An aspiring Lifestyle blogger who specializes in health, food and restaurant sectors. WhatsApp me on +256759100143.

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