In the first years of life or even over the years, it is possible to present allergic reactions to items that apparently are so common in the lives of human beings. This is the case with food allergy and we may be surprised by the main items on the list.
What is food allergy?
Food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs right after consuming a certain food. Even a small amount of allergy-causing foods can trigger severe symptoms or even a potentially fatal reaction, known as anaphylaxis.
Food allergy affects approximately 6 to 8% of children under 3 years old and up to 3% of adults. Although there is no cure, some children outgrow food allergies as they get older.
It is easy to confuse a food allergy with a much more common reaction, known as food intolerance. Although it is uncomfortable, food intolerance is a less serious condition that does not involve the immune system.
Symptoms of Food Allergy
For some people, an allergic reaction to a particular food can be uncomfortable, but not serious. For others, an allergic food reaction can be frightening and even fatal.
Symptoms of food allergy usually develop within a few minutes to two hours after consuming the allergenic food.
Symptoms of food allergy include:
- Tingling or itching in the mouth
- Hives, itching or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, throat or other parts of the body
- Wheezing, nasal congestion or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
In some people, a food allergy can trigger a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This can cause life-threatening symptoms, including:
- Airway constriction
- Swollen throat or a lump in the throat that makes breathing difficult
- Shock with severe drop in blood pressure
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness or loss of consciousness
Emergency treatment is essential for anaphylaxis. Untreated, it can cause coma or even death.
When to see a doctor?
Consult a doctor or allergist if you experience symptoms of food allergy shortly after consuming them. If possible, consult your doctor when the allergic reaction is occurring, this will help you to make a diagnosis.
Seek emergency care if you develop any symptoms of anaphylaxis.
What Causes Food Allergy?
When there is a food allergy, the immune system mistakenly identifies a specific food or substance in food as harmful.
In response, the immune system triggers cells to release an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) to neutralize the food or food substance that causes the allergy (allergenic).
When a person consumes the smallest amount of that food again, IgE antibodies detect it and signal the immune system to release a chemical component called histamine, as well as other chemical components, into the bloodstream. They cause the symptoms of the allergy.
Major Allergy-Causing Foods
In adults, most food allergies are triggered by certain proteins contained in:
- Shellfish, shrimp, lobster and crab
In children, food allergies are commonly triggered by proteins contained in:
- Cow milk
What is Pollen-Food Syndrome?
Also known as Oral Allergy Syndrome , the pollen-food syndrome affects many people who have allergic rhinitis. In this condition, certain fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts and spices can trigger an allergic reaction that causes the mouth to become swollen or itchy. In severe cases, the reaction results in swelling of the throat or even anaphylaxis.
The proteins contained in these foods cause the reaction because they are similar to the proteins that cause allergies to certain pollens. When the food that triggers pollen food allergy syndrome is cooked, its symptoms may be less severe.
Exercise-induced food allergy
Eating certain foods can cause some people to itch and feel sick right after they start exercising. Severe cases can involve hives or anaphylaxis. Not eating for a few hours before exercising and avoiding certain foods can help to avoid this problem.
Risk Factors For Food Allergy
Risk factors for food allergy include:
Family History – There is a greater risk of food allergy if the person has asthma, eczema, allergies, such as rhinitis in their family.
Other allergies – If a person is already allergic to a food, they may have an increased risk of becoming allergic to other things. Likewise, if you have other types of allergic reactions, such as rhinitis or eczema, the risk of having a food allergy is greater.
Age – Food allergies are more common in children, especially young children and babies. As you get older, your digestive system matures and your body is less likely to absorb food or food components that trigger allergies. Fortunately, children often outgrow allergies to milk, soy, wheat and eggs. Serious allergies such as nuts and shellfish are more likely to remain lifelong.
Asthma – Asthma and food allergies commonly occur together, so they are more likely to be severe.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing an anaphylactic reaction include:
- History of asthma
- Being a child or teenager
- Not receiving medication in time to treat symptoms of food allergy
- Do not show symptoms such as hives on the skin
How to prevent?
The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to know and avoid foods that cause the symptoms. For some people, this is a mere inconvenience, but others find it more difficult.
In addition, some foods, when used as ingredients in certain dishes, can be quite hidden , this occurs a lot in restaurants.
If you know you have a food allergy, follow these steps:
- Know what you are eating and drinking – Make sure to read food labels carefully.
- If you have ever had a severe reaction – wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that lets others know that you have a food allergy if you have a reaction where you cannot communicate.
- Talk to your doctor about the emergency epinephrine prescription – You may need to carry an auto-adrenaline injection if you are at risk for a serious allergic reaction.
- Caution in restaurants – Make sure the cook is aware of not putting allergy-causing ingredients. Also, make sure that the food was not prepared on surfaces or pans that contained any food that you are allergic to.
- Do not hesitate to explain your condition. Restaurant staff members will generally be more helpful if they clearly understand the request.
- Plan meals and snacks before you leave home – If necessary, bring a cooler with allergen-free food when traveling or attending an event. If you or your child cannot eat cake or dessert at a party, bring a food item that they can consume so that no one feels out of celebration.
If your child has a food allergy, take these precautions to ensure his safety:
- Communicate important people about your child’s food allergy – Talk to the babysitter, school staff, parents of friends and other adults who interact regularly with your child. Emphasize that an allergic reaction can be fatal and requires immediate action. Make sure your child also knows how to call for help immediately if they have an allergic reaction.
- Explain the symptoms of food allergy – Teach adults who spend time with your child to recognize signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
- Write an action plan – The plan should describe how to care for your child when he has an allergic reaction to food. Provide the school with a copy of the plan.
- Ask your child to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace – This alert lists your child’s allergy symptoms and explains how others can provide first aid in an emergency.
See Also: Diaper Allergy – Why Does It Occur?
My name is Dr. Alexis Hart I am 38 years old, I am the mother of 3 beautiful children! Different ages, different phases 16 years, 12 years and 7 years. In love with motherhood since always, I found it difficult to make my dreams come true, and also some more after I was already a mother.
Since I imagined myself as a mother, in my thoughts everything seemed to be much easier and simpler than it really was, I expected to get pregnant as soon as I wished, but it wasn’t that simple. The first pregnancy was smooth, but my daughter’s birth was very troubled. Joana was born in 2002 with a weight of 2930kg and 45cm, from a very peaceful cesarean delivery but she had already been born with congenital pneumonia due to a broken bag not treated with antibiotics even before delivery.