Various Kinds of Food Allergy and Their Treatment
Food allergy is characterized by increased sensitivity of the body to food products and the development of signs of food intolerance caused by the reaction of the immune system. It is well known that the mechanisms of food intolerance are very diverse.
About 4 percent to 6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults in the USA are impacted by various types of food allergies. Sometimes this health concern can affect the whole family, as well. But your doctor cannot exactly tell if any of your children or siblings have the same kind of food allergy.
General Food Allergy Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms and time of manifestation of food allergy directly depend on the type of allergic reaction. So, with an allergic reaction of the immediate type, the allergy manifests itself in a few minutes (usually 20-30 minutes) or 3-4 hours after eating. The main manifestations include urticaria, anaphylactic reactions, rhinitis, dermatitis, asthma, and vascular edema. Reactions of the same delayed type appear after 10-24 hours or several days after taking the trigger product. Symptoms appear gradually and include depression, muscle pain, joint inflammation, headaches, vascular spasms, urinary function disorders, enuresis, bronchitis, poor appetite, constipation, blurred vision, etc.
Anaphylaxis is considered to be the most serious allergic reaction to food. This life-threatening reaction can appear in some minutes of exposure to the allergic food and even can be fatal. It can considerably impact your ability to breathe, change your heart rate, and drop your blood pressure.
Food Allergy Diagnosis
Your doctor will ask you the detailed questions about the food you ate and the specific symptoms you have experienced. Depending on your symptoms, the doctor may order the following procedures to perform diagnosis:
- Challenge test, detecting allergic sensitization based on the introduction of an allergen into the target organ
- Blood tests such as IgE levels or RAST tests.
- Cytological examination of smears from mucous membranes (nasal cavity, conjunctiva, sputum, etc.) allows to indirectly defining the nature of the reaction (allergic, infectious or other).
- Skin prick test for allergy to certain foods
Popular Products Causing Food Allergy
Milk: Milk allergy is the most common food allergy in American children and it is usually diagnosed during the first months of life and then, by age of 5, children outgrow this health concern. This allergy is caused by the milk proteins of whey and casein. It differs from lactose intolerance which is characterized by the inability to digest carbohydrate in milk.
- Eggs: It is the second most popular food allergy. About 80 percent of children outgrow the eggs allergy before age 5.
- Wheat: 1 in 5 children is allergic to wheat, having also an allergy to another grain. In the first few years of life, children outgrow this allergy.
- Soy: Soy products allergies are generally mild and it is outgrown by most children in the first few years of life.
- Fish: Fish allergy is usually developed in adults. Salmon, halibut, and tuna are the most common trigger products. You can be allergic to only one fish but, generally, it is recommended to avoid all kinds of fish.
- Shellfish: Shellfish allergy is common in adults, as well. Both can lead to food allergy. If you have an allergic reaction to just one kind of shellfish (crustaceans, mollusks), you must avoid all shellfish such as clams, oysters, lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops, and mussels.
- Tree nuts: If you have an allergy to only one tree nut, you need to avoid all tree nuts including pecans, pistachios, walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.
- Peanuts: This food allergy is much more serious because, compared to other allergies, risks of anaphylaxis occurrence are greater. As the peanut allergy often coexists with the tree nuts allergy, you must also avoid tree nuts.
Food Allergy Treatment Tips
To manage the food allergy, the first thing you have to do is follow the following tips:
- You must avoid eating your allergy triggers.
- You always need to ask questions about food you buy and to do your personal research before eating something.
- You must know and understand well where your food comes from. For example, your ordered meal can seem “inoffensive”, but it can be prepared on the same surface as meals having the products you are allergic to. The same deals with foods packaged or fabricated in plants that produce the products you are allergic to.
- You have to discipline yourself to read labels.
- Always ask about ingredients in your ordered meal at restaurants.
- You must learn other names of your allergy trigger food.
According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), food products must be labeled as “contains milk” or “contains soy” in order to communicate ingredients.
If you have mild allergic reactions such as sneezing, itching, rashes, and hives, your doctor will prescribe you antihistamines or oral steroids. But if you have anaphylaxis, the most serious allergic, you will be prescribed with an injection of epinephrine.
How to Prevent Food Allergies?
- Avoiding the introduction of stodge until the age of four months helps prevent allergies.
- Delaying eating highly allergenic products such as tree nuts, peanuts, and seafood until the age of 3 years also helps prevent allergy.
However, some recent research dedicated to the investigation of the fact if the introduction of these products in the early days of life may help prevent food allergy is increasingly beginning to challenge the more traditional approach to introducing these allergic foods.
What Kinds of Food Allergies Can People Outgrow in Their Childhood?
It is well known that it is possible to outgrow their food allergies during early childhood, but this outgrowing depends on some factors. Fish, shellfish, peanut, and tree nut allergies can last for life, but during childhood, people tend to outgrow soy, egg, milk, and wheat allergies. However, it is difficult to determine if the child can outgrow the allergy, or if it will last for years. A low food IgE level may indicate a better chance for children to outgrow a food allergy.