10 Things You Should Know about Food Allergy
One of the greatest and simple things the humanity can enjoy is eating delicious meals. Unfortunately, food allergy may prevent a person from tasting a variety of products. According to the Canadian Health&Care Mall statistics, about 15 million of Americans have food allergies. The situation is significantly complicated by the fact that a number of people with food allergies keeps growing constantly but clear reasons, explaining it, have not been found yet. There are several important things anyone suffering from food allergies should know in order to make his or her life easier and safe.
Basic Information on Food Allergies
Food allergies occur as a result of an immune response to consuming certain foods. The danger of such a response is that it can be severe and even life-threatening.
The following eight products are responsible for 90% of serious allergic reactions in the USA:
- Crustacean shellfish;
- Tree nuts.
Food allergy symptoms may develop from a few minutes to two hours after consuming certain food.
Symptoms of food allergies range from mild to severe. Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. It occurs within several minutes. The only way to stop it is get an injection of epinephrine.
The following are the most common symptoms of food allergies:
- Tingling or itching in the mouth;
- Itching, hives or eczema;
- Swelling of different parts of the face and body;
- Nasal congestion, wheezing or trouble breathing;
- Abdominal pain, nausea diarrhea or vomiting;
- Lightheadedness, dizziness or fainting.
Important Things about Food Allergies
There is a range of important things that you should know if you have a food allergy. Knowing them will help you avoid dangerous situations and be prepared in different situations.
1. There is no cure for food allergies. The most important is to identify whether you have an allergy to some products and strictly avoid using such products. About 25% of children in the USA outgrow food allergies, so if your children have food allergies, there is a chance that this condition may disappear in future.
2. Food allergy and food intolerance are different health problems. The latter occur if the body does not have an enzyme needed to digest a certain food and does not cause an immune response. If you are not certain whether you have an allergy or intolerance to certain foods, you’d better consult your healthcare provider.
3. There is a range of tests used to determine whether you have an allergy to some kind of food. Usually, the following tests may be taken:
- Skin tests. During an allergy skin test, a tiny drop of a food extract is placed on the skin. If within 15-20 minutes a red spot appears on the skin, you may have an allergy to this kind of food.
- Blood tests. A blood test is more expensive than a skin test, and it takes 1-2 week to receive the results.
- Challenge test. During a challenge test, you will eat small amounts of different foods and control your reaction. This test is usually taken under doctor’s supervision.
4. If some kind of food causes little problems once or twice, it does not mean that the same situation will repeat. You should be aware that the same food may cause severe symptoms the next time. Generally, if you suspect that something causes a food allergy, go to your doctor and check it properly using specific methods.
5. You should carefully check the labels of products for their ingredients in order to determine whether there is food that may cause an allergic reaction. Although according to the FDA food allergen label law, all food labels should clearly state if they contain top eight food allergens. There are some products with labels that may not disclose full information. You should be really careful when you buy:
- Cosmetics and products for personal care;
- Foods not regulated by the FDA;
- Toys, pet food and crafts.
The general rule here should be “If you doubt, do not buy it”.
6. When eating out, you should always warn a person serving you that you have an allergy to certain products. A good solution is to carry the so-called “chef card” with you, which contains information about the food products you should avoid. Templates for this card can be found on the Internet, but avoid using it without editing according to your personal situation.
7. In case of anaphylaxis, you should immediately be injected with epinephrine (adrenaline). Ask your healthcare provider to prescribe an auto-injector. Tell you relatives and friends that you have one for you to be sure that if something happens, they will know how to use it. It is also important to have at least two doses because there is a chance that the reaction may occur again.
8. Even if you are not sure that you have a severe allergic reaction, it is better to use epinephrine. If you have suspicions but do not have epinephrine with you, it is still better to call emergency services or ask somebody to take you there by car.
9. A food allergy may occur at any age. Even if you have never had a history of food allergies, you should be aware that it may occur at any time. That is why it is important to be careful when tasting new products, so eat a really small amount of food for a start and see how your body reacts to it. You should also know what symptoms may occur due to a food allergy, so that you could recognize them on time.
10. According to the latest researches, the occurrence of food allergies may also depend on genetic factors. That is why if you have a food allergy, you should check whether your children have it. If you parents or other relatives have an allergy to certain foods, you should check whether you have an allergic reaction to the same products.
To sum up, normal life with food allergies is possible if you know a few important things about it. Basically, all you need is to be selective with the foods you consume, find out which kinds of food cause an allergic reaction and know what to do in a situation when symptoms appear.