Food allergy is a growing concern for various food and health organizations around the world. Statistics from the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) show that about 32 million people in the United States have allergic reactions to food.

Food allergy is an abnormal reaction to proteins present in food. They are symptoms that develop in your body after ingesting foods that you’re immune system may mistake for foreign substances.

Most food allergies are self diagnosable and can be treated by health care professionals. In some cases, you might be subjected to a series of Lab imaging and tests.

Although food allergies can be managed, the effects can sometimes persist for a lifetime.

THE FOOD ALLERGY LIST.

Food allergies can arise from almost any type of edible substance. Here are 8 common sources;

Milk.

The highest number of food allergy cases in infants and young children can be traced to milk. Even though milk allergy is common, it only affects about 2-3 percent of babies. 90% of young children outgrow it before the age of 6. People often confuse milk allergy with milk intolerance.

With milk allergy, the body’s immune system reacts poorly with S-casein protein. The protein is abundant in cow milk, other mammalian sources such as goats and sheep. Pediatricians recommend that children suffering from milk allergies.

Milk intolerance not to be confused with an allergy is when the digestive tract is unable to break down the sugar (lactose) present in milk. Milk intolerance is more common in older children and adults. It is rare in babies.

Eggs.

The second most common food allergen in young children and toddlers is eggs. However, most children tend to overcome the allergy by the age of 16.

Eggs are predominantly made up of 2 mixtures – the egg yolk and egg white. Studies have shown that it is possible to be allergic to either the egg white or egg yolk. It is possible as the protein components in each mixture are slightly different. The egg white contains more protein allergens than the egg yolk. The most common causes of allergy are the egg white.

Recent studies have shown that cooked eggs are less likely to create a negative reaction. Heating the eggs would denature the protein allergens. Hence, stopping your body from mistaking the egg as a foreign substance.

Considering that cases differ with each individual, best to consult a doctor before including eggs in your diet.

Tree nuts.

Like the name implies tree nuts are nuts or seeds from trees. Popular examples include Brazil nuts, cashew, hazelnuts, pecan, and walnuts.

People with tree nut allergies develop complications from consuming tree nuts. You can be allergic to one specific tree nut and consume other nuts naturally. However, there can be exceptions in the case of pecan and walnut which are closely related. As a result, it is not uncommon that there are people that will develop reactions to several types of tree.

Should you have a tree nut allergy, you can decide to avoid that nut or avoid all tree nuts completely. Nevertheless, always inform your doctor before making any decision

Most people develop tree nut allergies at a young age. Although the effects can be lifelong, there is still a chance that some children will outgrow their tree-nut allergy in time.

Peanuts.

Peanuts, unlike tree nuts, are legumes that grow from the ground. It’s possible for some individuals with a tree nut allergy to also develop a peanut allergy. Peanut allergy is common in both children and adults. However, research has shown that 20% of peanut allergies can be overcome later in life.

Treatments for peanut allergies often include a strict diet that avoids peanut in any form. Albeit, there is a unique treatment that caters to children.

The treatment involves giving prescribed amounts of peanuts to the child under strict medical supervision. With time, the hope is to reduce the child’s sensitivity to peanuts.

Shellfish.

The word shellfish describes members of the crustacean and mollusks families such as Shrimps, Lobster, Squid, and Prawn.

A shellfish allergy is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to shellfish diets. The protein allergen present in shellfish is Tropomyosin and symptoms can vary between mild and tragic.

Shellfish poisoning can sometimes be difficult to differentiate from shellfish allergy as they share similar digestive symptoms. In shellfish poisoning, complications arise from eating shellfish contaminated by bacterial or other environmental sources. Meanwhile, shellfish allergy is the result of an abnormal reaction of the body’s immune system to the food.

Most cases of shellfish allergies persist for a lifetime. So, care must be taken to avoid shellfish diets at all costs.

It’s been discovered that shellfish allergies can be triggered by inhaling vapors rising from cooking shellfish. As a note of warning, people allergic to shellfish should not be in any area where shellfish are being prepared.

Wheat.

In wheat allergy, the body develops an allergenic reaction to the proteins (gluten) present in wheat. Wheat allergies are more common in children than in adults. Although most children outgrow the allergy before the age of 10.

It’s been confirmed that some symptoms in wheat allergy can also be experienced in Celiac disease and Non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Although abnormal reactions to gluten in wheat allergies can be life-threatening. The same cannot be said for Celiac disease and Non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Furthermore, people with wheat allergies can still consume gluten from other grain sources unlike persons suffering from Celiac disease and Non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Fish.

Fish allergy affects more than 2% of adults. Interestingly, about 40% of adults develop allergies to fish later in life. It is an allergy that behaves uncommonly.

The proteins in shellfish and finned fish are different. it’s possible to react to protein allergens in shellfish and not finfish. However, it’s also possible to develop allergic reactions to more than one type of fish.

Abnormal reactions to finned fish can occur by feeding on contaminated fish. While symptoms can be similar, reactions are not the same thing as a fish allergy.

Soy.

0.4% of children below the age of 3 suffer from allergenic reactions to the proteins in soybeans and their products. Although 70% of people affected will outgrow the allergy.

Young children with milk allergies tend to develop allergies to soy. Soy foods are popular, so it is important to always take caution.

People with soy allergies like other allergies have to stay away from diets containing soybeans and other soy products like soy milk and soy sauce.

Allergies can arise from the following foods as well;

  • Chamomile

  • Peach

  • Garlic

  • Sesame seed

  • Mustard seed

  • Kiwi fruit

  • Aniseed

  • Banana

  • Garlic

  • Passion fruit

  • Avocado

  • Linseed

  • Garlic

SYMPTOMS OF FOOD ALLERGIES.

The symptoms of food allergy can be mild or devastating depending on the individuals involved. Symptoms arise within a few minutes or within 2 hours of consuming allergenic foods.

Food allergy symptoms are oftentimes confused for Food intolerance. Although food intolerance can be difficult to bear, it doesn’t affect the immune system. Also, cases of food intolerance are not as severe as food allergies.

The common symptoms experienced with food allergies include;

  • Itching and tingling sensations in the mouth

  • Itching hives or eczema

  • Swollen face, lips, tongue, throat, or other body parts

  • Difficulty in breathing, nasal congestion or wheezing

  • Vomiting or nausea, diarrhea, pains in the abdomen

  • Passing out, dizziness, or lightheadedness

Anaphylaxis

Extreme sensitivity to food allergens can result in anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis usually occurs in cases where the reaction is severe and it is life-threatening. As a result, immediate medical treatment is needed to treat its symptoms which include;

  • Constriction and tightening of the airways.

  • Swelling of the throat or a lump like sensation in the throat that makes breathing difficult.

  • Shock, low blood pressure.

  • Rapid pulse.

  • Loss of consciousness, dizziness, lightheadedness.

Anaphylaxis requires emergency treatment, left unattended can lead to coma or even death.

Allergies and food labels

Understanding food labels is crucial to avoiding food allergy reactions. Each country has its own set of rules for protecting consumers from food allergies.

In the United States manufacturers must include food allergy information on their products in simple and clear terms.

Additionally, food labels by law have to include the food sources of all major food allergens used in making the food. Food suppliers can meet this requirement if an ingredient listed on the label is also a food allergen. Otherwise, the food allergen source should be listed in either of the following ways.

  • In parentheses: After the name of the ingredient for example – “Flour (wheat)” or “Whey (milk)”.

  • Immediately after or beside the list of ingredients in the “Contains statement section”. For example contains Milk, Soy, and Wheat.

The bottom line for food allergies is to always be cautious. Take a careful look at the labels before eating or drinking anything. If you’re eating out, make sure to ask about the food you’re eating and how it was prepared. If you have any doubts about the ingredients on a food label contact the manufacturers or avoid the food completely.

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