Food allergies are immune system reactions that occur soon after eating some particular foods. That is, the body’s immune system sees a certain kind of food as harmful and reacts by causing symptoms known as ALLERGIC REACTIONS. Foods that cause allergic reactions are called ALLERGENS. A similar reaction is FOOD INTOLERANCE, which is more common but easily confused with food allergy. The difference is that, though bothersome, food intolerance is a less serious condition that does not involve the immune system. Examples of food intolerance include lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, sulfite sensitivity or dye sensitivity.
Food allergy symptoms can appear at any age, but they are most common in babies and young adults. On an estimate, food allergies affect about 6 to 8 percent of children under age 3 and up to 4 percent of adults. Although, there’s no cure, some children outgrow their food allergy as they get older.
TYPES OF FOOD ALLERGIES
IMMUNOGLOBULIN E (IGE) MEDIATED FOOD ALLERGY: Immunoglobulin E refers to antibodies which are produced by the immune system. They are produced when the immune system overreacts to an allergy. IGE mediated food allergies are those food allergies whose symptoms result when the body’s immune system makes these antibodies (immunoglobulin E) which reacts whenever some certain foods are eaten. The IGE mediated food allergies which are common in infants and children are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy and wheat allergies. The allergic reactions may involve the skin, mouth, eyes, lungs, heart, gut and brain.
NON-IMMUNOGLOBULIN E (IGE) MEDIATED FOOD ALLERGY: This occurs when other parts of the body’s immune system react to a certain food. Though this reaction also causes symptoms, but does not involve an IGE antibody. A person can have both IGE mediated and non-IGE mediated food allergies.
SYMPTOMS OF FOOD ALLERGY
Symptoms of food allergy usually develop within a few minutes to two hours after eating the offending food. These symptoms may be mild or severe, they include:
• Itching of the mouth or tongue.
• Body itching or eczema.
• Skin rashes.
• Swelling of the face, tongue, lips or other parts of the body.
• Abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting.
• Wheezing, nasal congestion or breathing difficulty.
• Dizziness, light-headedness or collapsing.
In some people, food allergy may trigger a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. This can cause life-threatening symptoms which include;
• Tightening or blockage of the airways.
• A swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe
• Shock with a severe drop in blood pressure
• Rapid pulse
• Dizziness, light-headedness or loss of consciousness
Emergency treatment is required for anaphylaxis. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can lead to a coma or even death.
COMMON FOODS THAT CAUSE ALLERGIC REACTION
6. Tree nuts
7. Tree nuts e.g almonds, hazel nuts, walnuts.
8. Shell fish
Avoid foods that are known to cause allergic reactions for you.
Minor allergic reactions can be treated with over-the-counter or prescribed antihistamines.
Severe allergic reactions may require an emergency injection of epinephrine. Several people with allergies usually carry an epinephrine autoinjector such as Adrenaclick, EpiPen, etc. The device is made up of a syringe and concealed needle that injects a single dose of medication when pressed against the thigh.