What are food allergies

A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing symptoms. This is an allergic reaction. Foods that cause allergic reactions are allergens.

IgE Mediated Food Allergies

The IgE mediated food allergies most common in infants and children are eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy and wheat. The allergic reaction can involve the skin, mouth, eyes, lungs, heart, gut and brain.

Some of the symptoms can include:

  1. Stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea
  2. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated. Symptoms result from the body’s immune system making antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These IgE antibodies react with a certain food.
  3. Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  4. Skin rash, itching, hives
  5. Shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing
  6. Feeling love something terrible is about to happen
  7. Non-IgE mediated. Other parts of the body’s immune system react to a certain food.

    This reaction causes symptoms, but does not involve an IgE antibody. Someone can own both IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated food allergies.

Sometimes allergy symptoms are mild. Other times they can be severe. Take every allergic symptoms seriously. Mild and severe symptoms can lead to a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis). This reaction generally involves more than one part of the body and can get worse quick. Anaphylaxis must be treated correct away to provide the best chance for improvement and prevent serious, potentially life-threatening complications.

Treat anaphylaxis with epinephrine.

This medicine is safe and comes in an easy-to-use device called an auto-injector. You can’t rely on antihistamines to treat anaphylaxis. The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction happen shortly after contact with an allergen. In some individuals, there may be a delay of two to three hours before symptoms first appear.

Cross-Reactivity and Oral Allergy Syndrome

Having an IgE mediated allergy to one food can mean your kid is allergic to similar foods. For example, if your kid is allergic to shrimp, he or she may be allergic to other types of shellfish, such as crab or crayfish.

Or if your kid is allergic to cow’s milk, he or she may also be allergic to goat’s and sheep’s milk. The reaction between diverse foods is called cross-reactivity. This happens when proteins in one food are similar to the proteins in another food.

Cross-reactivity also can happen between latex and certain foods. For example, a kid who has an allergy to latex may also own an allergy to bananas, avocados, kiwis or chestnuts.

Some people who own allergies to pollens, such as ragweed and grasses, may also be allergic to some foods.

Proteins in the pollens are love the proteins in some fruits and vegetables.

What are food allergies

So, if your kid is allergic to ragweed, he or she may own an allergic reaction to melons and bananas. That’s because the protein in ragweed looks love the proteins in melons and bananas. This condition is oral allergy syndrome.

Symptoms of an oral allergy syndrome include an itchy mouth, throat or tongue. Symptoms can be more severe and may include hives, shortness of breath and vomiting. Reactions generally happen only when someone eats raw food. In rare cases, reactions can be life-threatening and need epinephrine.

Two Categories of Food Allergies

  • a raised itchy red rash (urticaria, or «hives»)
  • an itchy sensation inside the mouth, throat or ears
  • Non-IgE mediated. Other parts of the body’s immune system react to a certain food.

    This reaction causes symptoms, but does not involve an IgE antibody. Someone can own both IgE mediated and non-IgE mediated food allergies.

  • Immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated. Symptoms result from the body’s immune system making antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These IgE antibodies react with a certain food.
  • swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue and roof of the mouth (angioedema)
  • vomiting

Eating out

Be additional careful when eating in restaurants. Waiters (and sometimes the kitchen staff) may not always know the ingredients of every dish on the menu. Depending on your sensitivity, even just walking into a kitchen or a restaurant can cause an allergic reaction.

Consider using a “chef card” — available through numerous websites — that identifies your allergy and what you cannot eat.

Always tell your servers about your allergies and enquire to speak to the chef, if possible. Stress the need for preparation surfaces, pans, pots and utensils that haven’t been contaminated by your allergen, and clarify with the restaurant staff what dishes on the menu are safe for you.

Managing food allergies in children

No parent wants to see their kid suffer. Since fatal and near-fatal food allergy reactions can happen at school or other places exterior the home, parents of a kid with food allergies need to make certain that their child’s school has a written emergency action plan. The plan should provide instructions on preventing, recognizing and managing food allergies and should be available in the school and during activities such as sporting events and field trips.

If your kid has been prescribed an auto-injector, be certain that you and those responsible for supervising your kid understand how to use it.

In November , President Barack Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (PL ), which encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to own epinephrine auto-injectors on hand. As of tardy , dozens of states had passed laws that either require schools to own a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors for general use or permit school districts the option of providing a supply of epinephrine. Numerous of these laws are new, and it is uncertain how well they are being implemented.

As a result, ACAAI still recommends that providers caring for food-allergic children in states with such laws maintain at least two units of epinephrine per allergic kid attending the school.

Anaphylaxis

Symptoms caused by a food allergy can range from mild to life-threatening; the severity of each reaction is unpredictable. People who own previously experienced only mild symptoms may suddenly experience a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis, which can, among other things, impair breathing and cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. This is why allergists do not love to classify someone as “mildly” or “severely” food allergic — there is just no way to tell what may happen with the next reaction.

In the U.S., food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis exterior the hospital setting.

Epinephrine (adrenaline) is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis, which results when exposure to an allergen triggers a flood of chemicals that can send your body into shock. Anaphylaxis can happen within seconds or minutes of exposure to the allergen, can worsen quickly and can be fatal.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with a food allergy, your allergist should prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and teach you how to use it. You should also be given a written treatment plan describing what medications you’ve been prescribed and when they should be used.

Check the expiration date of your auto-injector, note the expiration date on your calendar and enquire your pharmacy about reminder services for prescription renewals.

Anyone with a food allergy should always own his or her auto-injector shut at hand. Be certain to own two doses available, as the severe reaction can recur in about 20 percent of individuals. There are no data to assist predict who may need a second dose of epinephrine, so this recommendation applies to every patients with a food allergy.

Use epinephrine immediately if you experience severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, feeble pulse, hives, tightness in your throat, trouble breathing or swallowing, or a combination of symptoms from diverse body areas, such as hives, rashes or swelling on the skin coupled with vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

Repeated doses may be necessary. You should call for an ambulance (or own someone nearby do so) and inform the dispatcher that epinephrine was istered and more may be needed. You should be taken to the emergency room; policies for monitoring patients who own been given epinephrine vary by hospital.

If you are uncertain whether a reaction warrants epinephrine, use it correct away; the benefits of epinephrine far outweigh the risk that a dose may not own been necessary.

Common side effects of epinephrine may include anxiety, restlessness, dizziness and shakiness.

In extremely rare instances, the medication can lead to abnormal heart rate or rhythm, heart attack, a sharp increase in blood pressure and fluid buildup in the lungs. If you own certain pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, you may be at a higher risk for adverse effects from epinephrine. Still, epinephrine is considered extremely safe and is the most effective medicine to treat severe allergic reactions.

Other medications may be prescribed to treat symptoms of a food allergy, but it is significant to note that there is no substitute for epinephrine: It is the only medication that can reverse the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Non-IgE Mediated Food Allergies

Most symptoms of non-IgE mediated food allergies involve the digestive tract.

Symptoms may be vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms can take longer to develop and may final longer than IgE mediated allergy symptoms. Sometimes, a reaction to a food allergen occurs up 3 days after eating the food allergen.

When an allergic reaction occurs with this type of allergy, epinephrine is generally not needed. In general, the best way to treat these allergies is to stay away from the food that causes the reaction. Under are examples of conditions related to non-IgE mediated food allergies.

Not every children who react to a certain food own an allergy. They may own food intolerance. Examples are lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, sulfite sensitivity or dye sensitivity.

Staying away from these foods is the best way to avoid a reaction. Your child’s doctor may propose other steps to prevent a reaction. If your kid has any food allergy symptoms, see your child’s doctor or allergist. Only a doctor can properly diagnose whether your kid has an IgE- or non-IgE food allergy. Both can be present in some children.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)

Eosinophilic (ee-uh-sin-uh-fil-ik) esophagitis is an inflamed esophagus. The esophagus is a tube from the throat to the stomach. An allergy to a food can cause this condition.

With EoE, swallowing food can be hard and painful.

Symptoms in infants and toddlers are irritability, problems with eating and poor weight acquire. Older children may own reflux, vomiting, stomach pain, chest pain and a feeling love food is “stuck” in their throat. The symptoms can happen days or even weeks after eating a food allergen.

EoE is treated by special diets that remove the foods that are causing the condition. Medication may also be used to reduce inflammation.

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)

FPIES is another type of food allergy. It most often affects young infants. Symptoms generally don’t appear for two or more hours. Symptoms include vomiting, which starts about 2 hours or later after eating the food causing the condition.

This condition can also cause diarrhea and failure to acquire weight or height. Once the baby stops eating the food causing the allergy, the symptoms go away. Rarely, severe vomiting and diarrhea can happen which can lead to dehydration and even shock. Shock occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Emergency treatment for severe symptoms must happen correct away at a hospital. The foods most likely to cause a reaction are dairy, soy, rice, oat, barley, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, squash and poultry.

Allergic Proctocolitis

Allergic proctocolitis is an allergy to formula or breast milk.

This condition inflames the lower part of the intestine.

What are food allergies

It affects infants in their first year of life and generally ends by age 1 year.

The symptoms include blood-streaked, watery and mucus-filled stools. Infants may also develop green stools, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia (low blood count) and fussiness. When properly diagnosed, symptoms resolve once the offending food(s) are removed from the diet.

Medical review December

The primary way to manage a food allergy is to avoid consuming the food that causes you problems. Carefully check ingredient labels of food products, and study whether what you need to avoid is known by other names.

The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of (FALCPA) mandates that manufacturers of packaged foods produced in the United States identify, in simple, clear language, the presence of any of the eight most common food allergens — milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and crustacean shellfish — in their products.

The presence of the allergen must be stated even if it is only an incidental ingredient, as in an additive or flavoring.

Some goods also may be labeled with precautionary statements, such as “may contain,” “might contain,” “made on shared equipment,” “made in a shared facility” or some other indication of potential allergen contamination. There are no laws or regulations requiring those advisory warnings and no standards that define what they mean.

If you own questions about what foods are safe for you to eat, talk with your allergist.

Be advised that the FALCPA labeling requirements do not apply to items regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (meat, poultry and certain egg products) and those regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (distilled spirits, wine and beer). The law also does not apply to cosmetics, shampoos and other health and beauty aids, some of which may contain tree nut extracts or wheat proteins.

Avoiding an allergen is easier said than done.

While labeling has helped make this process a bit easier, some foods are so common that avoiding them is daunting. A dietitian or a nutritionist may be capable to assist. These food experts will offer tips for avoiding the foods that trigger your allergies and will ensure that even if you exclude certain foods from your diet, you still will be getting every the nutrients you need. Special cookbooks and support groups, either in person or online, for patients with specific allergies can also provide useful information.

Many people with food allergies wonder whether their condition is permanent.

There is no definitive answer. Allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy may vanish over time, while allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to be lifelong.

Can food allergies be prevented?

In , the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study which supported research suggesting that feeding solid foods to extremely young babies could promote allergies. It recommends against introducing solid foods tobabies younger than 17 weeks. It also suggests exclusively breast-feeding “for as endless as possible,” but stops short of endorsing earlier research supporting six months of exclusive breast-feeding.

Research on the benefits of feeding hypoallergenic formulas to high-risk children – those born into families with a strong history of allergic diseases – is mixed.

In the case of peanut allergy, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) issued new updated guidelines in in order to define high, moderate and low-risk infants for developing peanut allergy. The guidelines also address how to proceed with introduction based on risk.

The updated guidelines are a breakthrough for the prevention of peanut allergy. Peanut allergy has become much more prevalent in recent years, and there is now a roadmap to prevent numerous new cases.

According to the new guidelines, an baby at high risk of developing peanut allergy is one with severe eczema and/or egg allergy. The guidelines recommend introduction of peanut-containing foods as early as months for high-risk infants who own already started solid foods, after determining that it is safe to do so. Parents should know that most infants are either moderate- or low-risk for developing peanut allergies, and most can own peanut-containing foods introduced at home.

Whole peanuts should never be given to infants because they are a choking hazard.

If your kid has no factors to be at high risk, the best way to introduce peanuts is to make certain first of every your kid is healthy – they don’t own a freezing, fever or anything else. Make certain it’s not the first food you’ve introduced to them.

Ruchi Gupta, MD, ACAAI member

Clinical studies are ongoing in food allergy to assist develop tolerances to specific foods. Askyour board-certified allergistif you or your kid may be a candidate for one of these studies.

A food allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts unusually to specific foods.

Although allergic reactions are often mild, they can be extremely serious.

Symptoms of a food allergy can affect diverse areas of the body at the same time. Some common symptoms include:

  1. a raised itchy red rash (urticaria, or «hives»)
  2. swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue and roof of the mouth (angioedema)
  3. an itchy sensation inside the mouth, throat or ears
  4. vomiting

Read more about the symptoms of food allergies.

Eating out

Be additional careful when eating in restaurants.

Waiters (and sometimes the kitchen staff) may not always know the ingredients of every dish on the menu. Depending on your sensitivity, even just walking into a kitchen or a restaurant can cause an allergic reaction.

Consider using a “chef card” — available through numerous websites — that identifies your allergy and what you cannot eat. Always tell your servers about your allergies and enquire to speak to the chef, if possible. Stress the need for preparation surfaces, pans, pots and utensils that haven’t been contaminated by your allergen, and clarify with the restaurant staff what dishes on the menu are safe for you.

Managing food allergies in children

No parent wants to see their kid suffer.

Since fatal and near-fatal food allergy reactions can happen at school or other places exterior the home, parents of a kid with food allergies need to make certain that their child’s school has a written emergency action plan. The plan should provide instructions on preventing, recognizing and managing food allergies and should be available in the school and during activities such as sporting events and field trips. If your kid has been prescribed an auto-injector, be certain that you and those responsible for supervising your kid understand how to use it.

In November , President Barack Obama signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act (PL ), which encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to own epinephrine auto-injectors on hand.

As of tardy , dozens of states had passed laws that either require schools to own a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors for general use or permit school districts the option of providing a supply of epinephrine.

What are food allergies

Numerous of these laws are new, and it is uncertain how well they are being implemented. As a result, ACAAI still recommends that providers caring for food-allergic children in states with such laws maintain at least two units of epinephrine per allergic kid attending the school.

Anaphylaxis

Symptoms caused by a food allergy can range from mild to life-threatening; the severity of each reaction is unpredictable.

What are food allergies

People who own previously experienced only mild symptoms may suddenly experience a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis, which can, among other things, impair breathing and cause a sudden drop in blood pressure. This is why allergists do not love to classify someone as “mildly” or “severely” food allergic — there is just no way to tell what may happen with the next reaction. In the U.S., food allergy is the leading cause of anaphylaxis exterior the hospital setting.

Epinephrine (adrenaline) is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis, which results when exposure to an allergen triggers a flood of chemicals that can send your body into shock.

Anaphylaxis can happen within seconds or minutes of exposure to the allergen, can worsen quickly and can be fatal.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with a food allergy, your allergist should prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and teach you how to use it. You should also be given a written treatment plan describing what medications you’ve been prescribed and when they should be used. Check the expiration date of your auto-injector, note the expiration date on your calendar and enquire your pharmacy about reminder services for prescription renewals.

Anyone with a food allergy should always own his or her auto-injector shut at hand.

What are food allergies

Be certain to own two doses available, as the severe reaction can recur in about 20 percent of individuals. There are no data to assist predict who may need a second dose of epinephrine, so this recommendation applies to every patients with a food allergy.

Use epinephrine immediately if you experience severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, feeble pulse, hives, tightness in your throat, trouble breathing or swallowing, or a combination of symptoms from diverse body areas, such as hives, rashes or swelling on the skin coupled with vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

Repeated doses may be necessary. You should call for an ambulance (or own someone nearby do so) and inform the dispatcher that epinephrine was istered and more may be needed. You should be taken to the emergency room; policies for monitoring patients who own been given epinephrine vary by hospital.

If you are uncertain whether a reaction warrants epinephrine, use it correct away; the benefits of epinephrine far outweigh the risk that a dose may not own been necessary.

Common side effects of epinephrine may include anxiety, restlessness, dizziness and shakiness.

In extremely rare instances, the medication can lead to abnormal heart rate or rhythm, heart attack, a sharp increase in blood pressure and fluid buildup in the lungs. If you own certain pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, you may be at a higher risk for adverse effects from epinephrine. Still, epinephrine is considered extremely safe and is the most effective medicine to treat severe allergic reactions.

Other medications may be prescribed to treat symptoms of a food allergy, but it is significant to note that there is no substitute for epinephrine: It is the only medication that can reverse the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Non-IgE Mediated Food Allergies

Most symptoms of non-IgE mediated food allergies involve the digestive tract.

Symptoms may be vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms can take longer to develop and may final longer than IgE mediated allergy symptoms. Sometimes, a reaction to a food allergen occurs up 3 days after eating the food allergen.

When an allergic reaction occurs with this type of allergy, epinephrine is generally not needed. In general, the best way to treat these allergies is to stay away from the food that causes the reaction. Under are examples of conditions related to non-IgE mediated food allergies.

Not every children who react to a certain food own an allergy.

They may own food intolerance. Examples are lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, sulfite sensitivity or dye sensitivity. Staying away from these foods is the best way to avoid a reaction. Your child’s doctor may propose other steps to prevent a reaction. If your kid has any food allergy symptoms, see your child’s doctor or allergist. Only a doctor can properly diagnose whether your kid has an IgE- or non-IgE food allergy. Both can be present in some children.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)

Eosinophilic (ee-uh-sin-uh-fil-ik) esophagitis is an inflamed esophagus.

The esophagus is a tube from the throat to the stomach. An allergy to a food can cause this condition.

With EoE, swallowing food can be hard and painful. Symptoms in infants and toddlers are irritability, problems with eating and poor weight acquire. Older children may own reflux, vomiting, stomach pain, chest pain and a feeling love food is “stuck” in their throat. The symptoms can happen days or even weeks after eating a food allergen.

EoE is treated by special diets that remove the foods that are causing the condition.

Medication may also be used to reduce inflammation.

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)

FPIES is another type of food allergy. It most often affects young infants. Symptoms generally don’t appear for two or more hours. Symptoms include vomiting, which starts about 2 hours or later after eating the food causing the condition.

What are food allergies

This condition can also cause diarrhea and failure to acquire weight or height. Once the baby stops eating the food causing the allergy, the symptoms go away. Rarely, severe vomiting and diarrhea can happen which can lead to dehydration and even shock. Shock occurs when the body is not getting enough blood flow. Emergency treatment for severe symptoms must happen correct away at a hospital. The foods most likely to cause a reaction are dairy, soy, rice, oat, barley, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, squash and poultry.

Allergic Proctocolitis

Allergic proctocolitis is an allergy to formula or breast milk.

This condition inflames the lower part of the intestine. It affects infants in their first year of life and generally ends by age 1 year.

The symptoms include blood-streaked, watery and mucus-filled stools. Infants may also develop green stools, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia (low blood count) and fussiness. When properly diagnosed, symptoms resolve once the offending food(s) are removed from the diet.

Medical review December

The primary way to manage a food allergy is to avoid consuming the food that causes you problems.

Carefully check ingredient labels of food products, and study whether what you need to avoid is known by other names.

The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of (FALCPA) mandates that manufacturers of packaged foods produced in the United States identify, in simple, clear language, the presence of any of the eight most common food allergens — milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and crustacean shellfish — in their products. The presence of the allergen must be stated even if it is only an incidental ingredient, as in an additive or flavoring.

Some goods also may be labeled with precautionary statements, such as “may contain,” “might contain,” “made on shared equipment,” “made in a shared facility” or some other indication of potential allergen contamination.

There are no laws or regulations requiring those advisory warnings and no standards that define what they mean. If you own questions about what foods are safe for you to eat, talk with your allergist.

What are food allergies

Be advised that the FALCPA labeling requirements do not apply to items regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (meat, poultry and certain egg products) and those regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (distilled spirits, wine and beer). The law also does not apply to cosmetics, shampoos and other health and beauty aids, some of which may contain tree nut extracts or wheat proteins.

Avoiding an allergen is easier said than done. While labeling has helped make this process a bit easier, some foods are so common that avoiding them is daunting.

A dietitian or a nutritionist may be capable to assist. These food experts will offer tips for avoiding the foods that trigger your allergies and will ensure that even if you exclude certain foods from your diet, you still will be getting every the nutrients you need. Special cookbooks and support groups, either in person or online, for patients with specific allergies can also provide useful information.

Many people with food allergies wonder whether their condition is permanent.

There is no definitive answer. Allergies to milk, eggs, wheat and soy may vanish over time, while allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish tend to be lifelong.

Can food allergies be prevented?

In , the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study which supported research suggesting that feeding solid foods to extremely young babies could promote allergies. It recommends against introducing solid foods tobabies younger than 17 weeks.

It also suggests exclusively breast-feeding “for as endless as possible,” but stops short of endorsing earlier research supporting six months of exclusive breast-feeding.

Research on the benefits of feeding hypoallergenic formulas to high-risk children – those born into families with a strong history of allergic diseases – is mixed.

In the case of peanut allergy, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) issued new updated guidelines in in order to define high, moderate and low-risk infants for developing peanut allergy. The guidelines also address how to proceed with introduction based on risk.

The updated guidelines are a breakthrough for the prevention of peanut allergy.

Peanut allergy has become much more prevalent in recent years, and there is now a roadmap to prevent numerous new cases.

According to the new guidelines, an baby at high risk of developing peanut allergy is one with severe eczema and/or egg allergy. The guidelines recommend introduction of peanut-containing foods as early as months for high-risk infants who own already started solid foods, after determining that it is safe to do so. Parents should know that most infants are either moderate- or low-risk for developing peanut allergies, and most can own peanut-containing foods introduced at home. Whole peanuts should never be given to infants because they are a choking hazard.

If your kid has no factors to be at high risk, the best way to introduce peanuts is to make certain first of every your kid is healthy – they don’t own a freezing, fever or anything else. Make certain it’s not the first food you’ve introduced to them.

Ruchi Gupta, MD, ACAAI member

Clinical studies are ongoing in food allergy to assist develop tolerances to specific foods. Askyour board-certified allergistif you or your kid may be a candidate for one of these studies.

A food allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts unusually to specific foods.

Although allergic reactions are often mild, they can be extremely serious.

Symptoms of a food allergy can affect diverse areas of the body at the same time. Some common symptoms include:

  1. a raised itchy red rash (urticaria, or «hives»)
  2. swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue and roof of the mouth (angioedema)
  3. an itchy sensation inside the mouth, throat or ears
  4. vomiting

Read more about the symptoms of food allergies.


Anaphylaxis

In the most serious cases, a person has a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), which can be life threatening.

Call if you ponder someone has the symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as:

  1. trouble swallowing or speaking
  2. breathing difficulties
  3. feeling dizzy or faint

Ask for an ambulance and tell the operator you ponder the person is having a severe allergic reaction.


What causes food allergies?

Food allergies happen when the immune system – the body’s defence against infection – mistakenly treats proteins found in food as a threat.

As a result, a number of chemicals are released. It’s these chemicals that cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Almost any food can cause an allergic reaction, but there are certain foods that are responsible for most food allergies.

Foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are:

  1. tree nuts
  2. shellfish
  3. eggs
  4. milk
  5. peanuts
  6. fish
  7. some fruit and vegetables

Most children that own a food allergy will own experienced eczema during infancy.

The worse the child’s eczema and the earlier it started, the more likely they are to own a food allergy.

It’s still unknown why people develop allergies to food, although they often own other allergic conditions, such as asthma, hay fever and eczema.

Read more information about the causes and risk factors for food allergies.


When to seek medical advice

If you ponder you or your kid may own a food allergy, it’s extremely significant to enquire for a professional diagnosis from your GP.

They can then refer you to an allergy clinic if appropriate.

Many parents mistakenly assume their child has a food allergy when their symptoms are actually caused by a completely different condition.

Commercial allergy testing kits are available, but using them isn’t recommended. Numerous kits are based on unsound scientific principles. Even if they are dependable, you should own the results looked at by a health professional.

Read more about diagnosing food allergies.


Types of food allergies

Food allergies are divided into 3 types, depending on symptoms and when they occur.

  1. non-IgE-mediated food allergy – these allergic reactions aren’t caused by immunoglobulin E, but by other cells in the immune system.

    This type of allergy is often hard to diagnose as symptoms take much longer to develop (up to several hours).

  2. IgE-mediated food allergy – the most common type, triggered by the immune system producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Symptoms occur a few seconds or minutes after eating. There’s a greater risk of anaphylaxis with this type of allergy.
  3. mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediated food allergies – some people may experience symptoms from both types.

Read more information about the symptoms of a food allergy.

Oral allergy syndrome (pollen-food syndrome)

Some people experience itchiness in their mouth and throat, sometimes with mild swelling, immediately after eating unused fruit or vegetables. This is known as oral allergy syndrome.

What are food allergies

Oral allergy syndrome is caused by allergy antibodies mistaking certain proteins in unused fruits, nuts or vegetables for pollen.

Oral allergy syndrome generally doesn’t cause severe symptoms, and it’s possible to deactivate the allergens by thoroughly cooking any fruit and vegetables.

The Allergy UK website has more information.


Treatment

The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to identify the food that causes the allergy and avoid it.

Research is currently looking at ways to desensitise some food allergens, such as peanuts and milk, but this is not an established treatment in the NHS.

Read more about identifying foods that cause allergies (allergens).

Avoid making any radical changes, such as cutting out dairy products, to your or your child’s diet without first talking to your GP. For some foods, such as milk, you may need to speak to a dietitian before making any changes.

Antihistamines can assist relieve the symptoms of a mild or moderate allergic reaction. A higher dose of antihistamine is often needed to control acute allergic symptoms.

Adrenaline is an effective treatment for more severe allergic symptoms, such as anaphylaxis.

People with a food allergy are often given a device known as an auto-injector pen, which contains doses of adrenaline that can be used in emergencies.

Read more about the treatment of food allergies.


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