Food Allergies 101

Let’s talk Food Allergies! You’ve heard the term and maybe even know someone with a food allergy, but what does having a food allergy mean?

What is a Food Allergy?

A food allergy is a potentially life threatening condition where the body’s immune system thinks certain foods are trying to harm it. The body’s immune system mistakenly targets normally, harmless proteins and treats these as a threat . Histamine and other chemicals are released to fight the “invader,” much like the body does with bacteria or viruses.

A food allergy is not a food sensitivity or intolerance. A food allergy does not mean the affected person is a picky or fussy eater.

How Many People in the U.S. Have a Food Allergy?

Currently, 15 million Americans are diagnosed with a food allergy, according to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). One in 13 children are affected by food allergies, about two for every classroom. In the U.S., food allergies send a person to the emergency room every three minutes. Even if you don’t have a food allergy, you are likely to know, or will know, someone who does. So it’s important to understand what a food allergy actually is

Food allergies can develop anytime in a person’s life.

Is there a Cure for Food Allergies?

There is no magic pill or vaccine to cure a person with a food allergy. The only way to treat the condition is to strictly avoid the food(s) you are allergic to .

Which Foods are Most People Allergic to?

While any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all reactions:

  • Eggs

  • Milk

  • Peanuts

  • Tree nuts

  • Fish

  • Shellfish

  • Wheat

  • Soy

What are the Symptoms of a Food Allergy?

Allergic reactions vary and not every food allergy reaction is the same. That’s why vigilant avoidance of your allergen is important.

Food allergy symptoms usually develop within a few minutes to two hours after eating the offending food and common symptoms include:

  • Tingling or itching in the mouth

  • Hives, itching or eczema

  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body

  • Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing

  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting

  • Dizziness,being lightheaded or fainting

In some people, a food allergy can trigger a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis – signs and symptoms, include :

    How is a Food Allergy Diagnosed?

    If you suspect a food allergy, see an accredited allergist. Do not waste your time on home testing kits, muscle testing, hair testing or other unproven tests .

    An allergist will take a detailed health history and discuss the foods you eat and reactions. The allergist may conduct tests to help identify a food allergy. While these tests alone do not always provide clear-cut answers, the allergist will combine your test results with the information given in your medical history to provide a diagnosis. These tests may include: Skin Pick test. Blood Test ,Oral Food Challenge, Trial Elimination Diet.

    Do you have a food allergy? Do you know someone with a food allergy? Tell us in the Comments section how food allergies impact your life.

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