Food Allergy

Feb 20, 2009
Food allergy is an adverse reaction of the immune system to certain food. Food may contain substances (usually a protein), called allergens that trigger allergic response. When you eat food that contains allergens, body reacts by releasing chemicals known as histamines that affect certain organs like those from respiratory system, cardiovascular system or skin.

Symptoms of allergy

How do you know that you have food allergy? When your body identifies an allergen in food, the allergen I considered to be harmful and your body produces antibodies to attack the harmful agent.

You may have one or several symptoms of allergy on certain food allergens. Allergy can affect different body parts and manifest itself in several ways, such as:

  • Skin rash or dermatitis

  • Sneezing, swelling around the mouth, wheezing, stuffed nose

  • Difficulty to breathe, asthma symptoms

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps

  • Headaches, tiredness, sometimes convulsions

  • Anaphylactic shock, a condition when a person experiences severe allergic reaction, like swelling of the tongue and throat, loss of consciousness and other

What are most common food allergens?

According to the American Federal Drug Administration you can have allergic response to any food, but in most cases people are allergic to the following food:

Major allergens:
Nuts (peanuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecan nuts, pine kernels, brazil nuts, cashews and other)
Soy products
Cereals, containing gluten (wheat, oats, barley etc)
Fish and shellfish
Minor allergens:
Fruits with stones (peaches, apricots, plums)

If you are allergic to certain food, it doesn't matter how much you ate, because even small amounts of this food can cause allergy. Also many products contain food, like soy that can cause allergy, so you should check the contents of the products to ensure it doesn't prompt allergic reaction.

How common is food allergy?

Many people think that allergy is widespread, which is one of the popular misconceptions. It is estimated that only 2 to 6 percent of people have true food allergy, while the rest have food intolerance or other condition. It is important to know that allergy is a response of the immune system. People more often deal with food intolerance, which doesn't involve immune system, but is inability to digest certain food due to the lack of certain enzymes.

Is there a treatment for food allergy?

Actually, allergy cannot be cured permanently. Common medications for allergy relieve the symptoms of allergy. The only way to protect yourself from allergy is to avoid food that causes it. However, you should seek medical help to find the adequate substitute for food that you lack in your diet.