Food Allergies-New Understanding
Hives on the Arm
Understanding Food Allergies
The first thing we must understand with regards to food allergies is to evaluated, and diagnosed by a board-certified allergist. According to the Food Allergy Survival Guide, it is important to pay attention to how your body reacts to particular foods if you are having allergy symptoms.
Sometimes you may be able to figure out what food is a problem by a simple process of eliminating the likely culprits, and then re-introducing them slowly back into your diet.
However, there are three different types of allergic responses.
- First, the true food allergy is a hypersensitivity to a protein a particular type of food. It is the overreaction of the body’s immune system to a food or food ingredient that the body recognizes as foreign. Typical symptoms of food allergies are listed in the chart below. One out of three people loses the allergy if a food is not eaten for 1-3 years.
- Secondly, there is a food intolerance that causes an adverse reaction to a food, food ingredient, or additive that does not involve the immune system. It is typically the digestive system that is affected. This is a reaction to small molecules when digested that affect some people adversely. Examples would be lactose or gluten intolerance, so the result would be nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Gluten intolerance is actually an autoimmune disease.
- Thirdly, there is a food sensitivity, which includes both the food allergy and intolerance that causes more serious reactions.
Anaphylaxis- blood vessels dilate, tissues swells
Most Food Allergies Start in 1st Year of Life
Most food allergies develop in the first year of life affecting up to 8% of children according to the World Allergen Organization. Most children outgrow allergies, and only 2% of adults have food allergies. Food allergies are more common in children who have other allergic diseases, such as eczema.
Food allergies can be experienced in many different body paths from mild irritation to life-threatening anaphylactic responses. A true food allergy means being hypersensitive to a particular food and causes an inappropriate response from the immune system. These allergies are typically due to some type of protein. In a normal situation, the immune system reacts to foreign organisms, such as bacteria or viruses that are harmful by a rather complex system.
With regard to food allergens, the action by the immune system is similar. It recognizes the invader (food allergen), classifies it as dangerous, and utilizes its unique defense to destroy the invader by unleashing destructive chemicals. The first time this happens to an individual there is no systemic response, but the body becomes sensitized.
The next time the invader enters the system the substances poses a threat, as the body prepares a defense. It is alerted to the allergen as it knows it is a threat, and the body prepares a defense. The next step is the counterattack, which sets off a series of events. This causes blood vessels to dilate and tissue to swell causing discomfort, and there can be a wide variety of symptoms.
Food Allergies - Mayo Clinic
Common Food Allergy - Intolerance Problems
According to the World Allergy Organization of the More Common Food Allergies Chart, the following foods cause the greatest number of allergies and anaphylaxis.
For infants and young children: milk (cow/goat), chicken egg, peanut, tree nuts (walnuts, hazel/filbert, cashew, pistachio, Brazil, pine nut, almond) cause the most allergies that result in anaphylaxis. Wheat is the other most common allergy but without the anaphylaxis.
Other food items that are not common allergies in infants, but can also cause anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction to an antigen).
- Shellfish (shrimp, crab, lobster, oyster, scallops)
- Seeds (cotton, sesame, psyllium, and mustard)
- Cows milk
For older children and adults:
- Tree nuts, (walnuts, hazel/filbert, cashew, pistachio, Brazil, pine nut, almond)
- Shellfish, (shrimp, crab, lobster, oyster, scallops)
- Seeds, (cotton, sesame, psyllium, and mustard)
These can all cause anaphylaxis.
Kids Living With Food Allergies
Symtoms and Treatments
Symptoms of Food Sensitivity and Conditions can range from mild to severe and include the skin and mucous membranes; eczema, hives, redness, swelling of deeper tissues in the mouth and face, itching.
Other symptoms may include:
- Respiratory tract; runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery and reddened eyes, earache with fluid drainage, throat tightening (due to swelling), asthma, chest congestion, lung spasms and coughing. Throat tightening and difficulty breathing lead to anaphylaxis; see picture above.
- Nervous system; migraines or other headaches, dizziness, spots before the eyes, listlessness, hyperactivity, fatigue, lack of concentration, irritability, depression
- Other; muscle aches, dark circles under the eyes, sweating
Anaphylaxis symptoms develop extremely fast (in minutes or even seconds), and it is a 911 life-threatening emergency. There is a long list of possible physical reactions that might precede the person going into shock and dying. Look for hives, rash, confusion, wheezing, rapid heart rate, the throat will swell shut cutting off oxygen to the individual causing cardiac collapse and death.
The foods most commonly associated with anaphylactic reactions are peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, and fish. People with known anaphylactic reactions carry a kit containing injectable adrenaline (epinephrine) and an oral antihistamine in case of accidental exposure.
There is no cure for food allergies except avoidance of the offending food. Symptoms may be treated, but this is not a cure.
There are doctors that use the RAST test, which mixes your child's blood with various food extracts to prove allergies are a problem. The reliability of this test may vary from one lab to another. The problem foods can be removed from your child's diet.
Treatment for food sensitivities may include Advair or Proventil for asthma. There are numerous antihistamines. Regular allergy shots are used after the appropriate allergy testing. There are other treatments for eczema as well.
Some allergy symptoms with viruses have responded to chiropractic care. Alternative treatments are also being done by the Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique, which is based on curing the pathways of energy in the body using acupressure points and kinesiology.
If you or your child is exhibiting these types of symptoms the best thing to do is see a board-certified allergist. They can do the proper testing and start treatment as necessary. There is a wide variety of treatments depending on the type of symptoms you are exhibiting.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.