Food allergies are somewhat rare, as only 2% of the population suffer from food allergies.
Symptoms of an Allergy to a Food
Symptoms usually start within minutes to hours of ingesting the offending food. Symptoms include runny nose, sneezing, skin rashes, intestinal discomfort, nausea, eczema and rarely anaphylaxis (which is a severe allergic reaction).
What causes a food allergy?
As with pollen and dander allergies, food allergies are caused by the immune system producing increased levels of the antibody IgE. The IgE then starts a reaction on the cellular level in your body that produces histamine and other chemicals that result in allergy symptoms. Sometimes, although rare, the allergic reaction can be life threatening.
What is food intolerance?
Food intolerance is caused by the body not being able to break down or digest a food due to lack of a digestive enzyme. A good example of this is lactose (milk) intolerance. This is where the enzyme lactase is not produced by the body, and the digestive system cannot break down the sugars in dairy products. This may cause diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping and bloating. This is not life threatening condition, as a food allergy can be.
How do I know if I have any food allergies?
If you suspect a food allergy, we can skin test you for a definitive answer. Also a blood test, called a RAST test, may be ordered, but it may not be as accurate as the skin tests.
Are there foods more likely to cause allergies?
Yes. 90% of all food allergy reactions are due to peanuts, shellfish & tree nuts. Other common food allergies are eggs, milk, soy, wheat and fish. These foods are often referred to as the Top 8, however, any food can potentially cause allergic reactions.
Is there a cure?
No. The absolute best treatment is to avoid those foods. This can be difficult, especially with soy, wheat & peanut allergies because they are in so many prepared foods. Thorough label reading skills are a must.
What if I accidentally eat a food I’m allergic to?
You should have a food allergy action plan in place provided by The William Storms Allergy Clinic. This may include oral medications and/or epinephrine (adrenaline) self-injecting pens. If you are unsure of your action plan, please ask us immediately!
Will I outgrow my food allergies?
About one third of adults and children become free of their food allergies eventually. People who have experienced food related anaphylaxis to peanuts, shellfish or tree nuts usually do not outgrow those allergies.
Food Allergy Network www.foodallergy.org
American College of Allergy and Immunology