Lowdown on Food Allergies:- Most of us love eating, and much of our day can revolve around thinking about what we’re going to munch on and then cooking or buying it. However, sometimes what we eat (or drink, too) can have unintended negative consequences that can lead to discomfort, serious health issues, or in some cases, even death.
As such, we should all have at least a basic understanding of some of the most common food allergies and the issues they can create.
What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy is an adverse immune system reaction. It occurs when the body doesn’t like certain foods and their proteins. Even a miniscule amount of the allergy-causing substance can trigger an allergic reaction for some people. Your immune system mistakenly identifies a food or something in it as harmful and triggers cells in your body to release an antibody to neutralize the allergen.
Then, the next time you eat some of that same food, the antibodies will pick up on it and tell your immune system to release chemicals. Histamine, in particular, plus some other chemicals, gets released into your bloodstream and causes the allergic reaction symptoms that arise. People can have mild, moderate, or severe symptoms or even suffer from a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.
It’s important to note, too, that a food allergy is different from a food intolerance. When people eat items they have an intolerance for, they’ll have an adverse bodily reaction, but it’s a much less serious condition, and it doesn’t involve the immune system. Intolerances are more common than allergies; however, allergies still affect millions of people every year. There’s no cure for food allergies, although some children who have them can outgrow the issues as they get older.
What Items Can People Get Allergies From?
All sorts of substances can make people sick with an allergic response. In children, the most common allergies stem from eating peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts and pecans), cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, and soy. In adults, food allergies often get triggered by the aforementioned goods as well as shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, and shrimp) and fish, plus other items beyond wheat that may contain gluten, such as barley, rye, and triticale.
Also, some people have pollen-food allergy syndrome. Some nuts, spices, fruits, or vegetables can cause allergic reactions since they’re similar to the proteins found in certain pollens that cause allergies. However, this cross-reactivity may be less severe when such foods are cooked rather than eaten raw.
Symptoms That May Present
Everyone can have different reactions to foods that their bodies don’t like, ranging in severity. The signs may develop within minutes or hours, too. Some symptoms that may present include hives, itching, tingling in the mouth, eczema, wheezing, trouble breathing, and nasal congestion.
If you’re having recurrent sinus issues, it may be due to something you eat. Many people wonder, “are sinus infections contagious?” and while they can be, in some cases, the sinus pain and congestion stems from an allergy rather than picking up a virus.
Other signs of an allergy can arise, too. Pay attention to nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or fainting. You could notice swelling of your throat, tongue, lips, or face, or swelling in other parts of your body, too. Also, anaphylaxis happens in the most severe cases. It creates life-threatening issues such as the constriction of the airways, a significant drop in blood pressure, shock, rapid pulse, loss of consciousness, and a swollen throat or sensation of a lump in that area that makes it hard to breathe. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can result in a coma or death.
How to Get Diagnosed
If you notice persistent allergic reactions symptoms presenting themselves after you eat, book in with your doctor or a specific allergist. If you can, try to see them when the reaction is happening as it’s easier for them to diagnose at that time. Always seek emergency treatment, though, if you develop any indications of anaphylaxis. To determine if you’re dealing with one or numerous food allergies, a medical practitioner will conduct a blood test and/or a skin test.
Treatment and Allergy Avoidance Options
Unfortunately, there’s no medical treatment for a food allergy. The way to avoid dealing with symptoms is to decrease how much of the allergen you consume in your diet or eliminate it. Some people can get away with rotating how often they eat the foods they’re allergic to, while others have to go cold turkey to feel okay and avoid serious issues.
Avoiding foods that produce histamine, such as tomatoes and eggplant, and other nightshade plants is also worth considering. These foods can make allergic symptoms worse because they produce histamine themselves.
Understanding food allergies will help you feel and look better or protect yourself and your loved ones from potentially dire consequences due to consuming the wrong items.