For some people, when they eat certain foods, they get a sick feeling. Sometimes it can get to extremes where they have diarrhea, vomit or even worse, faint. This could likely be a food allergy. But sometimes, the symptoms can be similar to food intolerance. So it’s advisable to consult your doctor to know the real cause of the problem.
A food allergy is a condition where the immune system mistakenly defends the body against a harmless food. A food allergy is a two-step process. The first one begins when you first consume the food. Your immune system will be alerted and form an immunoglobulin to fight the food the next time you eat it. Step two comes into play when you consume the allergenic food again, your body will release chemicals to fight it. And this will make you show the symptoms of a food allergy.
Eosinophilic Esophagitis and Food Allergy
Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic disease associated with food allergy. In this situation, a person will have a buildup of eosinophil, which is a type of an immune cell, accumulate in the esophagus. The disease is common in both children and adults, and it is estimated that it now affects 1 in every 1000 people.
The person may have difficulty in swallowing food, chest and abdominal pain, heartburn, vomiting, a feeling that food is stuck and more.
If diagnosed with EoE, your doctor will recommend the best medication. In addition, changing your diet has also proved successful in minimizing its effects.
Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)
This condition is caused by raw fruits or vegetables. It happens when you eat food, get in contact with it or use any of its products. The allergy may be in the form of itching and a tingling sensation of the mouth and lips. Or the lips may swell.
Cooking the food will break its proteins thereby eliminating the allergenic factor.
Exercise Induced Food Allergy
Here, the allergic reaction will manifest itself when you eat food and go for an exercise. Increased physical activity will result in itching, light-headedness, hives and anaphylaxis. Common foods that may cause this allergy are tomatoes, alcohol, cheese, and crustacean fish. So avoiding these foods before you go for an exercise will prevent this disease.
This is a severe form of an allergic reaction, primarily caused by allergenic food. It begins so suddenly and can be fatal if not promptly treated. This is especially true in situations where breathing and blood circulation is restricted. It is crucial that you seek medical assistance the moment you start getting the symptoms, which might develop in minutes or hours of exposure.
Symptoms of Food Allergy
Common symptoms include:
- Itching, redness or swelling of the skin
- Sneezing, stuffy nose or running nose
- Tightness of the throat, difficult in swallowing and sometimes hoarseness
- Difficulty in breathing, coughing, chest pain and tightness
- Vomiting, diarrhea and cramps
- Weak pulse from the heart, passing out or shock
- Dizziness or fainting
These are the common foods that will cause allergies in children
- Tree nuts
In adults, these foods can as well cause allergies
- Tree nuts
Most of these allergic reactions will develop when one is still young, and it is possible to overcome these with age. But sometimes, a food allergy may develop at an old age. This will usually stay for one’s lifetime. Research has also shown that one is likely to develop allergies to the food eaten regularly.
Milk Allergy In Infants And Children
Most infants are allergic to cow milk. This will usually start just days after birth or even after several months. Likely symptoms are abdominal pain, hives and eczema. In some cases, it will go on to cause blood in stool and poor growth. It is recommended though that you doctor should diagnose if it really is a milk allergy as symptoms can be similar to other diseases.
Pregnancy, Breastfeeding and Introducing Solid Foods To Your Baby
When pregnant, it is recommended that you should eat a balanced diet and avoid foods you are allergic to. If you don’t have any food allergy, there is no evidence supporting that eating those will make your child develop allergies, so you are free to eat them.
For breastfeeding mothers, it is again recommended that you only feed your baby breast milk. And as for allergic reactions, there is no evidence backing that avoiding certain foods will prevent your baby from becoming allergic to them.
Experts recommend that you should introduce solid foods after 4 to 6 months of age. There is no evidence to support the delay of introducing the food after 4 to 6 months of age. And also, delaying food after the said period will not prevent your child from developing the food allergy.
Is It Food Allergy Or Food Intolerance?
Some symptoms of food allergy can be similar to those of food intolerance.
Lactose intolerance is one common type of food intolerance. This occurs when the lining of the gut does not have Lactase to digest the sugar found in milk called Lactose. This results in bacteria digesting the lactose and causing abdominal pain, bloating or diarrhea.
Also, food additives might again produce symptoms similar to a food allergy. These additives might be used to add flavor to the food or change its color and many more. Its symptoms include headache, chest discomfort or difficulty in breathing and flushing.
Other types of food intolerance are food poisoning, gluten intolerance, histamine intolerance and other conditions.
In order to determine a food allergy, your doctor will use the following methods:
- Your history – This is usually the starting point. The doctor will ask you a series of related questions
- Diet Diary – The doctor might then ask you to keep track of all foods you eat and record any symptoms
- Elimination diet – Suspected foods will be removed from your diet and its effects will be observed
- Skin Prick Test – This is to confirm that you are allergic to a certain food. It’s done by placing a sample of it on your skin, and a reaction will indicate that you are allergic.
- Blood Test – Instead of a skin prick test, your doctor might test your blood sample
- Oral Food Challenge – Here, you will consume foods while your doctor watches if you develop any symptoms.
Prevention and Treatment
In order to prevent an allergy, you first need to identify the allergenic foods and eliminate them from your diet. When you are shopping prepared meals, read the labels and always keep yourself clean by washing hands for example.
As for treatment, your doctor will decide on the best medication you can take to reduce the symptoms in case you unintentionally get exposed to the food.
A food allergy can be annoying at times. Apart from keeping you from eating foods you love, it makes you sick. And yes, this can be a disturbance in your everyday life. So if you cannot get over your allergy, your best bet is to avoid the allergenic food altogether.