Allergies are basically hypersensitivity of the immune system to a foreign substance. In simpler words, an allergy can develop as a response to a substance that doesn’t suit the body.
One of them is food allergy!
You may have noticed some people developing skin reactions after eating certain foods. Or maybe you yourself must have had a personal experience. Some foods may not suit you.
What is a food allergy?
A food allergy is an unpleasant immune system reaction in response to a food eaten.
An allergic reaction to a food can have symptoms ranging from mild to severe. It is not necessary that if the initial reaction has caused few problems, rest all the reactions will be similar. A food that has triggered mild symptoms on one occasion can trigger severe symptoms on the other.
The symptoms can be mild, such as:
1. Itchy skin or rash, swelling
2. Sneezing, runny nose, coughing, difficulty breathing.
Severe symptoms may include one or more of the following
1. Swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or throat that blocks breathing
2. Trouble swallowing
3. Shortness of breath
4. Drop in blood pressure (feeling faint, confused, weak, passing out)
5. Loss of consciousness
6. Chest pain
7. A weak pulse
How to diagnose if you have a food allergy? Certain tests are conducted which give a more clear picture as to which foods suit you and which don’t!
1. Skin prick tests*: They provide quick results. For this test, the skin is pricked with a small, sterile probe and then a tiny amount of the food allergen is placed on the skin of the arm. The test is considered positive if a weal – a red small bump similar to a mosquito bite develops at the site where the suspected allergen was placed. The test results are then recorded.
2. Blood tests* - Blood tests measure the amount of IgE antibodies against specific allergens.
*The tests give the basic information as to how the procedure is carried out. Consult your doctor to know more.
Common food allergens:
For children: Peanuts, milk, eggs, soy and wheat, almonds, walnuts, cashews etc.
For adults: Peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
Management and Treatment:
1. The primary way to manage any allergy is to stop eating the food that triggers the symptoms.
2. Be more careful while eating out at a restaurant.
3. While buying products, always read the nutrition label. When you are well aware that which food causes a reaction it becomes easy to manage.
Pay close attention to which foods suit you and which don’t!
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Written by: Megha Desai