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:
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.