What is Food Allergy?

One of the most common forms of allergies is the food allergy. Almost all people are allergic to some or other kind of food. Food allergy is a sign of your body immune system resisting against some substance which appears foreign to it or to which the body cannot adjust. Sometimes the allergy attacks are mild while for some people it is severe. The food allergy sometimes get cured by itself as you grow over time like you might have been allergic to certain food when you were young and now you are no more and at other times the allergic nature in you can remain for lifelong. The usual products that people are allergic to are eggs, nuts, soy and milk products. There has now been the rule hence to print the ingredients required to make the food at the back of its cover so that the customer who is buying it would know what he or she is going to take in.

What is Food Allergy?

Causes of Food Allergy

The basic cause of food allergy is that the food overreacts to immune your body from the substance that it is not comfortable with. Any food can trigger the allergy. If you are atopic that is if the tendency to show allergic reactions is inherited by you then you will have food allergy often. Another cause of food allergy is your body reacting abnormally to the food like it happens with people who have gluten allergy. Here the person's small intestine is not functional enough to take nutrients from all kinds of food. Sometimes Cross-reactivity is the cause where people become allergic to similar products, like if a person is allergic to pollen he or she might also be allergic to a vegetable which contains pollen. Having food allergy after exercise is known as exercise induced food allergy is another serious concern as it might lead to anaphylaxis and to prevent this one should not eat immediately after exercising. The food might also contain certain chemicals which your body is not suited for. This also can cause allergic reactions.

Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergy

There are some common signs and symptoms of food allergy. They are:

  • Reddening of skin is a visible sign of food allergy.
  • Swelling of skin which may sometimes turn into blisters.
  • Developing spots or marks on the skin is also seen in food allergy.
  • Developing rashes everywhere in the body.
  • Itchiness.
  • Feeling weak.
  • Vomiting.
  • Stomach aches.
  • Dizziness.
  • Watering of eyes and disturbance sin the vision.
  • Swelling of tongue which makes the speech jumbled.
  • Coughing and sneezing.

The signs and symptoms of food allergy may differ from person to person. For some people it can be mild and end up with rashes on the skin. Sometimes the tongue starts to swell and the person finds it difficult to talk. The wind pipe and the food pipe may also swell resulting in trouble in breathing and swallowing of food. Breathlessness may even become as serious as asthma attack. Severe vomiting and getting dehydrated with lowering of blood pressure and difficulty in blood circulation are other symptoms of food allergy.

When the food allergy attack gets serious you need to take immediate medication like only pushing medicines through the syringes help the patient. If the patient is left untreated for long, his systems might even get damaged. Rigorous itching may damage your skin permanently and leaves marks.

Tests to Diagnose Food Allergy

There are no prominent tests for food allergy that will prove your allergic nature and the substance that is causing it. Answering the doctors to most of their questions will help them make an informed decision. Blood tests and testing you with various foods may also give the result. Sometimes you yourself can identify the allergic cause since the recent intake causes the allergy and there are certain food items that often people appear to be allergic to. Often the self-identification is possible and thus lab tests are not required.

Treatment for Food Allergy

The treatment for a food allergy attack begins with cooling the skin down and preventing the itching by applying cooling lotion containing cortisone. The doctors also suggest antihistamine to calm your skin and prevent the itchiness. Sedative are offered to calm down the nerves so that the food allergy attack does not become severe. Exposure therapy where you are tested with little of the allergic food at regular periods so that you can become used to it is often carried out by the doctors. Other medicines for helping you to breathe and bringing down the swelling in your internal organs are prescribed by the doctors when required. Treating children is difficult because the best way to avoid a food allergy attack is to avoid the food which cannot always be done for kids thus the parents need to be careful about what the kid is having.

Risks Factors for Food Allergy

There are many risk factors for food allergy. The symptoms of food allergy is often ignored if mild and self-treated. This can lead to risking the patient's life. Secondly food allergy can develop at any point of time in your life thus diagnosing what is causing him uneasiness and the illness in you often takes time. Sometime allergy attacks which have gone bad in your past days make you phobic about that item and you start falling sick or get a panic attack even at the glimpse of it. The allergy medicines take time to cure you and thus you might prevent yourself from taking in something which in another way would be healthy for you. For example if a person has wheat allergy then he or she has prevent themselves from eating a lot of food items and therefore can lose in the nutrition to a level. Extreme cases of food allergy attack can cause serious breathing troubles and even lead to a heart attack.

Complications in Food Allergy

The complications of food allergy need to be kept in mind always and the patient has to be very careful about his food habit. He or she might take in something that contains a kind of food to which he or she is allergic. It is difficult to know which dish contains the ingredients that can trigger a food allergy attack, because even the smallest amount of that ingredient could make him or her sick. He or she has to avoid social gatherings and cannot eat outside mostly if he or she is allergic to more than one kind of food item which is the usual case. The food allergy attacks also create a phobia which is harmful for the patient's social life. One can turn allergic to any food product and any point in his or her life thus being always cautious is difficult.

Prevention of Food Allergy

Knowing what you are allergic to is most important in case of food allergy. You can prevent yourself from getting triggered by the substance that you are allergic to if you stop taking any kind of dish that might contain the allergic substance. You must get treated for your allergy and try to get better so that it does not pass on to your children. Never take any pills for reducing the allergy without the doctor's prescription as the medicine might have server side effects or have a reverse reaction on you.

Always follow the ingredients mentioned behind a food packet before you buy it to be aware of the substances that you are about to take in.

Prognosis/Outlook for Food Allergy

If your food allergy is not hereditary it is usually treatable and the prognosis is good. You can get well and be back on your normal life. If you are working in a field where you have to deal with the substance that you are allergic to, your work might get disturbed in the beginning but sometimes exposure or sometimes over a period of time the allergic nature in you fades down.

Home Remedies for Food Allergy

Below mentioned are some of the home remedies for food allergy:

  • Changing your food habit and avoiding the substance that you are allergic to.
  • If you are allergic to some kind of spices you might not add that in your dishes.
  • As soon as you have a food allergy attack, cool your skin down to prevent the rashes from spreading.
  • Apply ointments made at home to remove the allergy marks.
  • Choose a different food with same nutrients to add to your food habit so that you do not miss the regular nutrients that you need in your daily life like in case of wheat allergy you might choose to take bajra or barley instead.

Coping with Food Allergy

Coping with food allergy is not easy. It is difficult to bring a change in your food habit when you suddenly become allergic to a substance. Like if you are allergic to prawns and lobsters you might be giving up your favourite dish. In case of spices you have to take in bland food. The medicines which prevent the spread of food allergy contain sedatives which make you feel sleepy and it is difficult to suddenly lose your energy when you get a food allergy attack in the middle of the day. If you go through regular and thorough treatment then you can get over the fear of the material that you are allergic to and also get well.

Recovery Period for Food Allergy

The doctors can tell you the time you need to recover from your food allergy depending on the treatment that you are going through and the stage of the illness that you are in. He or she will also be able to help you to know if the allergic nature may reoccur in you or not.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: April 15, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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