Food allergy: its symptoms and treatment

Food allergy can happen to anyone anytime. Allergy is the reaction of immune system towards a potentially dangerous food item. The threat that a food item possesses triggers an overwhelming response. The effect of this response are easily identified by physiological and dermatological changes. The intensity of allergic responses can be mild to severe depending upon the intensity of threat accompanying the food. Certain allergies are inherited from parents and some are acquired over time. Allergies can either be treated or prevented in relation to their type, intensity and effect.

Causes of food allergy

Food allergy is supposedly more common in infants and children. It is because of their developing immune system isn’t that strong and tolerant. In adults, allergic reactions are because of the intolerance to some specific food ingredient or nutrients like protein. 

The most common allergy causing food items are:

  • Tree nuts
  • Eggs
  • shrimp, lobster, crab and other shell fishes 
  • soy 
  • Peanuts
  • Cow’s milk
  • Wheat
  • Soy

If a person who has 

Symptoms of food allergy 

The allergic reaction to a food item can be seen almost immediately. The symptoms that can indicate a food allergy are: 

  • Irritation and tingling in the mouth
  • Eczema (redness and itching of skin)
  • Swelling in parts of body like neck, lips and face 
  • Nasal congestion 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Abdominal pain
  •  Diarrhoea
  •  Nauseous or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting 
  • Repetitive cough 
  • Hoarse throat 
  • Weak pulse 
  • Skin turning into blue due to poor oxygenation 
  • Problem in swallowing
  • Anaphylaxis, a fatal reaction to poisoning that interrupts breathing, shock, drop in blood pressure, and tightening of air tubes. This is difficult to treat and can lead to comma or death. 

Treatment of food allergy 

Some people have mild reactions to allergic foods and others have pretty intense. In case of infants, parents can try to build tolerance to potential allergic foods after consulting their paediatrician. 

Adults who cannot reverse their allergic reactions now, can prevent eating the food items that might contain the ingredient they are allergic to. They can follow some of these suggested measures to avoid an allergic reaction:

  1. Carrying their own food: if your allergic reactions are severe then you might prefer carrying your own food whenever you step out. 
  2. Keeping epinephrine handy: request your doctor to prescribe an epinephrine auto injector that can be used to control the allergic reaction in emergency situations. 
  3. Inform the restaurant staff: if you are dining out, then it is preferable to inform the chef about your intolerance to something. They would be happy to oblige and you can enjoy your meal without worrying. 
  4. Awareness: before buying packed and stored food, check the label for ingredients. This can also save you from mistakenly eating anything inappropriate. 

It is better to get food allergy testing done even if you experience slightest symptoms to a food item. Some people try at home, food allergy test. This involves a risk factors and should be executed under expert supervision. As there is no possible treatment to food allergy, sticking to ‘prevention is better than cure’ seems to be the only viable option.

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