Food allergies are prevalent mostly in children, although adults can also experience an allergic response to eating a particular type of food. It leads to rashes, itching, and similar other allergic symptoms, which could range from mild to severe.
Symptoms of food allergy
Common symptoms are:
- Red itchy rashes all over the skin – eczema or hives
- Itching in and around the mouth and throat
- Swelling in face, lips, tongue, hands and other body parts
- Loose motions, nausea, vomiting, dizziness
- Stomach cramps
People who are overly sensitive to certain foods and get severe allergy can experience fainting and shortness of breath.
Causes of food allergy
As the name suggests, such allergies are triggered only by food and nothing else and therefore, should not be confused with food poisoning, food intolerance, or any other similar conditions.
Food allergies are usually triggered by:
- Gluten rich foods like wheat
- Sea fish like shrimp, crab, lobster, prawns
- Tree nuts- peanuts, walnut, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, almonds, cashews
Food allergy occurs when your immune system mistakenly recognizes the proteins present in the foods harmful to your body; thus, the immune cells release histamines to knock out the allergens, and you suffer from allergy.
When to see a doctor
If you observe the symptoms mentioned above, then do not delay seeking medical help.
Complications of food allergy
A severe case of food allergy can trigger an anaphylactic reaction, which is life-threatening. The individual would get chocked due to the narrowing of the airways and severe swelling in the throat. Blood pressure drops rapidly, and the pulse rate goes high, which calls for a medical emergency.
Diagnosis of food allergy
Your doctor will physically evaluate the symptoms and then check your food history, like- which foods you have eaten lately and how much you have eaten, etc.
Following this, you need to undergo two tests designed for food allergy, viz. blood test, and skin-prick test. A blood test is done to measure a load of antibodies produced due to the immune response, while skin prick test helps to identify the food allergen. During a skin prick test, a standard amount of food extracts are placed on your arm and then priced with a needle so that the particles come into contact with your skin. If a reaction occurs, then allergy towards that particular food is confirmed.
Treatment of food allergies
Once your doctor has figured out the food you are allergic to, then that food would be eliminated from your diet.
Antihistamine tablets are generally given to combat the allergy. In case of an emergency and severe outbreak, your doctor would provide you with an epinephrine shot. You will be retained in hospital, an IV drip and oxygen might be needed.
Your doctor would also give you an epinephrine autoinjector for using it under emergency circumstances, and therefore, you must know how to use it.
Managing and living with food allergy
Many children outgrow food allergy with age. Nonetheless, it would be best if you were careful.
Follow the instructions below:
- You can apply some cold compress over the allergies to soothe the itching and redness.
- It would help if you let your child know the food type he is allergic. Give him instructions about not eating that food.
- It would be best if you taught your kid to “Always ask, when in doubt” or say “No” to that food when offered
- Always check the food labels before eating and cross-check the ingredients while eating out at restaurants