Food Allergy

How common are food allergies?

Although 25% of people believe they are allergic to certain foods, studies show that only about 6% of children and 2% of adults have a food allergy.

What is the difference between food allergy and food intolerance?

A true food allergy is a reaction triggered by the immune system. Many more people simply have intolerance to foods that are unpleasant symptoms triggered by food (but that is not related to the immune system).

For example, milk allergy is more common in children than in adults. However, most children have allergy to when they have 2 or 3 years. Symptoms of milk allergy include hives, vomiting and breathing problems after consuming a dairy product. Many adults may have symptoms similar to those of milk allergy as adults often have trouble digesting milk sugar. This is called "lactose intolerance" and not an allergy because it is related to the immune system. The symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, cramps, nausea, gas and diarrhea.

What are the symptoms of food allergy?

The most common immediate symptoms of food allergy include:

  • Hives (large bumps on the skin).
  • Swelling.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Itching or tingling in the mouth.
  • Metallic taste in the mouth.
  • Cough, difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Tightness in the throat.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.

The person may also feel that something bad is about to happen. They can have a pale skin due to low blood pressure or lose consciousness. The most common chronic diseases associated with food allergy are eczema and asthma.

The food allergy can be fatal if severe enough to cause a reaction called anaphylaxis. This reaction blocks the airways and makes breathing becomes difficult. Prompt treatment with a medicine called epinephrine can save your life. If you or your child has a severe allergy, your doctor may give you a prescription for injectable epinephrine pen. Your doctor can show you how and when to use the pen. If your doctor thinks you may need this medicine, you should take it with you all the time.

A person having an allergic reaction should be taken by ambulance to the emergency room of a hospital, because the amount of adrenaline being pumped to the body can be dangerous. A doctor can administer epinephrine to slow the flow of blood from a person, breathing and metabolism.

What foods commonly cause allergic reactions?

Although people may be allergic to any food, most food allergies are caused by tree nuts, peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and seafood. These eight foods account for 90% of food allergies. Most people with food allergies are allergic to fewer than 4 foods.

I can be allergic to food dyes or artificial flavors?

Studies have found that some food additives such as tartrazine, yellow # 5 and aspartame (brand name: NutraSweet), an artificial sweetener, do cause problems in some people.

I can be allergic to sugar?

No. A condition is called food allergy when the immune system thinks that a particular protein in a food is a "foreign" agent and fights it. This does not happen with sugars and fats.

What is the treatment for food allergy?

Once diagnosed with a true food allergy, avoid foods that have caused. If you have an allergy, you should read the labels on all foods you eat. Your doctor can help you learn to avoid the wrong foods. If your child has food allergies, give them to school and other care takers’ instructions that list which foods to avoid and what to do if the food is eaten accidentally. There is no cure for food allergy.

How do I get over my food allergy?

Although most children usually outgrow allergies to milk, eggs, soy products and wheat they grow, not all do. People rarely outgrow allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish as they grow.


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