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What are Causes of Food Allergies?

Updated on August 2, 2014

Food Allergies

Food Allergy rash
Food Allergy rash

Food Allergies

Has there a rise in food allergies? That is a good question. Having worked in the school food service for 25 years it has been my experience that yes the number of food allergies have risen. When I first started in food service in the mid to late 80's we didn't hear very much about children and food allergies. I didn't notice much at first, but then the school nurse started sending us lists of children with food allergies. It started with peanut butter, well I thought that was normal, if you were to have a food allergy it would be to nuts, right? As the years progressed the lists became longer and what the children were allergic to became more diverse. I have seen everything from peanuts, milk, juice, you name it someone is allergic to it. Grant it some of these children and their parents use this just because their child doesn't like something. They say that they are allergic, this is not a true allergy. A true allergy is when you have a adverse physical reaction to something you have eaten. These adverse reactions include but are not exclusive to; hives, rash,swelling, iching, and difficulty breathing. Keep in mind that allergies affect each person differently.

The most common causes of food allergies are:

*Food Dyes


*Fish and shellfish


* Nuts



*Cow's Milk

*Citrus Fruits



* Mold that is found in food is also a potential problem.

What is an allergy? A food allergy refers to the hyperactive reaction of the body to certain substances. In this case food, the body treats the food like a foreign invader. Symptoms are hives, iching of mouth, eczema and/ or anaphlactic shock. Digestive symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and sometimes vomiting.

The first line of defense against an allergy attack is to avoid the foods you are allergic to but then antihistamines which are available over the counter are the second line of defense. But when a reaction becomes severe and you must go to the hospital, they may administer adrenalin. If you have a severe allergy your doctor may want you to carry an Epi Pen with you at all times. The Epi Pen contains a small dose of adrenaline. In the school system that I work in the nurse is in charge of the Epi Pens, and we have many more than we ever would have 20 to 25 years ago. So the question is have allergies to food skyrocketed? or are there just more people in the world today therefore the food allergies seem more extreme? I would guess that the answer to that would be a little of both.

Sometimes people have a bad reaction to milk and it is not an allergy. If milk gives you gas, bloating and diarrhea this is the symptoms of Lactose Intolerance. Lacotose Intolerance is when your body now lacks the lactase it needs to break down the sugar (lactose) that milk contains. We also have alot more of that in our schools now. Is it the fact that doctors are now more knowledgable about these things? That could be it, twenty five years ago I never heard anyone complain of lactose intolerance, but now It seems to be a common thing.

Finally I would have to say that allergies are nothing to mess with. If I were asked the question "Are food allergies on the rise?' I would have to answer in my opinion, "yes" from what I have witnessed working in the food service profession.

Velzipmur aka Shelly Wyatt

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