Food allergies are one of the most common types of allergies that people suffer today. A food allergy results from your body's immune system overreacting to a particular protein found in that food item. In severe cases, an allergic reaction can occur simply from coming in contact with a tiny amount of the trigger food.
WHAT CAUSES FOOD ALLERGIES?
Food allergies are the result of an immune system reaction. For instance, when a patient's body ingests a particular food, it may identify a protein within the food as an allergen. Once that happens, the body's immune system releases Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to fight off this "invader." If the patient ingests the trigger food again, the body may release chemicals such as histamine, which cause the symptoms associated with food allergies.
Although food allergies are often diagnosed in young children, they do surface in adults as well. Common trigger foods include:
- Cow's milk
- Tree nuts
In some cases, a person may think he is allergic to a certain food when he is just intolerant of it. Food intolerance simply means that a person has trouble digesting a certain food, whereas a food allergy involves a reaction from the immune system.
FOOD ALLERGY MANAGEMENT
Some food allergies are associated with moderate symptoms. They may only cause itching, the onset of a rash or hives, or other relatively minor symptoms. In such situations, either prescribed antihistamines or over the counter medications often help to reduce symptoms. However, it's important to note that antihistamines are ineffective in treating a severe allergic reaction.
If you experience a severe allergic reaction to a certain food, you may need to inject yourself with epinephrine and immediately go to the nearest emergency room. Many people who suffer from severe food allergies carry an autoinjector with them, such as an EpiPen. This device is designed to inject a single dose of epinephrine into your system when you press it against your thigh.
Your attending doctor must prescribe an autoinjector for your use in an emergency situation. If he has, make sure you understand how to use it. Carry it on your person at all times, or keep extra autoinjectors in your car and workplace. Also, make sure that you replace the epinephrine contained in the autoinjector before its expiration date.
If you suffer from food allergies, then the professional allergists at Allergy and Asthma Care of Waco can help you to identify your triggers, and manage your symptoms.