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Facts, Types & Diagnosis of Food Allergy

Submitted on March 27, 2012

A food allergy is primarily an abnormal response by the body to the ingestion of a food protein. When affected by an allergy the immune system reacts differently to that particular food and causes different symptoms that could be harmful to the body.

Facts

Food allergies are a very common occurrence and studies have shown that almost one if every five individuals are likely to suffer from some kind of food allergy or another. More often than not, a food allergy is confused with food intolerance despite the fact that the response from the body is distinctly different and food intolerance does not involve the immune system in any way.

Allergic reactions to food can have a wide ranging effect on the individual from being nothing more than a small reaction to life threatening and lethal. It is also said to be a food allergy only when the food triggering the outbreak is known to be generally harmless.

Types of Food Allergies

The fact that there are so many types of food allergies such as milk allergy, wheat allergy, seafood allergy, peanut allergy, soy allergy and egg allergy amongst many more simply means that just because you may suffer from one form of food allergy does not mean that you cannot suffer from another. Any treatment options are usually always geared to making sure you subdue any future reactions within the body. As a result, this also has a rather significant effect on the way that you are able to lead your life - with every menu checked seriously and intricately before every meal as well as always double guessing your food choices to ensure that you are not consuming the foods that cause the allergy. Medications may be provided by a doctor in order to subdue any instances of inadvertent itching, welling as well as headaches and runny noses. In the event that you do have a history of suffering from anaphylactic shock - which could be lethal, it is imperative that you carry a preloaded syringe of epinephrine with you. Your doctor can help with this.

Diagnosis of a food allergy can be quite a long drawn out procedure. This is primarily because of the fact that it may take some time to narrow down the right food that is causing the outbreak. The best method of identifying the triggering food substance is to slowly remove a certain substance or food item from your meal till you do not experience the reaction taking place. In some cases, you might hit the nail on the head in the first few days; sometimes it may take as long as a few weeks. Once the root cause of the food allergy has been ascertained, all you need to do is make sure that you avoid that type of food in any form.

Skin testing is another form of detection to identify if a patient is allergic, but it will not tell you exactly what substance the patient is allergic to. Blood tests, on the other hand, will require the scientists to look at your blood sample with the help of a microscope and ascertain if any antibodies against any food allergens have been developed by your immune system.

Foods that Cause Food Allergy

There are a number of foods that cause allergies and a person would be allergic just to a certain food and not all the allergy causing foods. Some of the common foods that are known to trigger allergic symptoms in the body of the individual include

  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Fruits like strawberries, melons and pineapple
  • Foods that have additives such as thickeners, dyes and preservatives
  • Wheat and other grains that contain a substance known as gluten.
  • Eggs
  • Milk

The facts about food allergies will tell you that any allergic reaction to whatever has been consumed will start no later than 2 hours after ingestion. Some of the primary symptoms that are likely to develop and be experienced with this kind of illness include swelling, itching, eczema, indigestion, cramps, wheezing, nasal congestion, dizziness, fainting as well as trouble breathing and anaphylactic shock. In the event that the symptoms that have developed are seen to be of extreme nature, you should make it a point to inform a doctor or medical emergency response unit immediately. The extreme symptoms of the condition will cause noticeable changes in the individuals pulse rate, changing the color of the skin and nails to slightly blue and swelling of the throat - thereby causing difficulty in swallowing.

As far as risk factors go, ay individual is at risk of suffering from a food allergy, however, studies have shown that individuals who come from a line of previous generations suffering from a food allergy are more likely to suffer from one than individuals that do not.

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