Food Allergy

Food allergy is the rapid and severe response to a particular food. If one has allergy to some food, the antibodies in the immune system, immune system antibodies, mistakes the food as an ‘invader’ and attack it. Inflammatory substances are released into human body, thereby resulting in unpleasant side effects.

Some of the common symptoms of food allergy are;

  • tingling on the lips and tongue,
  • a swollen feeling in the mouth or throat,
  • itching around the mouth
  • streaming eyes or nose,
  • rashes on the body,
  • wheezing, and
  • Nausea.
  • Anaphylaxis is an extremely rare allergic reaction that may occur in adults as well as children, but will rarely be found in babies and

infants. The initial symptoms are the same, but further it can cause:

  • Labored breathing.
  • Extreme swelling in throat and mouth
  • Increase in pulse rate.
  • Gastric pain with vomiting
  • Sense of panic and confusion.
  • Weakness or dizziness due to sudden drop in blood pressure.
  • Collapse and unconsciousness, known as anaphylactic shock.
  • 
The anaphylactic reactions occur rapidly, but there are chances of occurrences after an hour or after more exposure. It is life threatening and immediate treatment should be provided.

The usual triggers of food allergy in children are:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Soya and
  • Peanuts.

In adults, the triggers are

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Mushrooms
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Celery
  • Sesame

The cause for food allergies is not known. One must be careful if the family members have other allergies such as asthma.

The young children may outgrow the allergies to milk and egg, but the allergy to peanut may remain throughout his or her life. The allergies may tend to be there the whole life once they become adults, even though mild allergies to fruits and vegetables may improve.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of a food allergy is done by asking the information about the various reactions one is getting by having a specific food. If the doctor suspects allergy, the following tests may help in confirming those;

Skin prick testing
The food particles in diluted form are placed on the arm and the skin is pierced using a needle. Any redness, itching or swelling indicates the existence of allergy.

Blood tests
The antibodies which may be formed for a specific food are tested.

Challenge testing
It is performed under medical supervision. The reaction to the consumption of a small quantity of suspected food is tested. It may be along with another unsuspected food, which both the patient and the tester may not know. This is known as the ‘gold standard’ test. The occurrence of a reaction confirms the existence of allergy. This cannot be performed on persons having asthma.

Treatment

The best way of treating is to avoid the triggers of food allergy. Antihistamines can be prescribed for minor level of allergies. These act against the histamines that release the reactions for allergy. For anaphylaxis, adrenaline auto injector pens can be used on the prescription of physicians.