Before proceeding to food allergies, we must understand what an allergic reaction actually is. An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system responds aggressively to a particular protein. They can be caused by protein in substances such as food, insect stings, latex or medication. These proteins are known as allergens. While they pose no threat to the majority of people, allergens can trigger life-threatening reactions in people with severe allergies.
Common symptoms of an allergic reaction
Common food allergies
- Flushed or pale face, hives, rash, red and itchy skin
- Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, throat and tongue
- Trouble breathing, speaking or swallowing
- Anxiety, distress, sense of doom, weakness, fainting
- Cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and
- Drop in blood pressure, shock, rapid heartbeat, loss of consciousness
Treatment for food allergies
- EGG ALLERGY: Some people with a mild egg allergy can safely eat small amounts of cooked eggs, but have reactions to raw eggs. Although cooking can alter the structure of egg protein, some of the allergenic proteins are heat stable, so cooked eggs can still trigger reactions. Studies show that for many children with an egg allergy, the allergy will disappear within a few years. For some, however, severe egg allergy can be a life-long condition. Consult your allergist before trying any new foods that contain eggs.
- MILK ALLERGY: A milk allergy occurs when a person’s immune system reacts abnormally to milk proteins it can be life-threatening. Intolerance to lactose occurs when a person can’t digest lactose, a primary component of milk, because their body doesn’t produce enough of a specific enzyme. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhoea. If you are unsure whether you have milk allergy or lactose intolerance, consult an allergist.
- PEANUT ALLERGY: People tend to develop peanut allergy in childhood and most of these people will remain allergic to peanuts for life. However, tree nuts and peanuts are different. In some rare cases, people with peanut allergy also react to one or more tree nuts. Consult your allergist before eating any nut that is not a regular part of your diet.
- SEAFOOD ALLERGY: People with allergies to one type of seafood, like fish and shellfish may not be allergic to other kinds of seafood. Studies suggest that seafood allergies tend to fall within groups. In fact, many people are only allergic to a single type of seafood. For example, some people can eat fish safely but react to crab and lobster. If you’re allergic to one type of seafood such as fish, consult your allergist before trying other types.
- SESAME ALLERGY: People who are allergic to sesame seeds should avoid sesame oil. Very few sesame oils have been refined enough to remove the proteins that can trigger allergic reactions.
- SOY ALLERGY: A soy allergy is most common in infants and typically develops around three months of age. While for most children, a soy allergy will disappear within a few years, a severe soy allergy can be a lifelong condition. People who are allergic to soy may not need to avoid soy oil. Soy oils in the market tend to be refined enough to remove all of the proteins that can trigger allergic reactions. However, you should consult your allergist before eating anything made with soy oils.
- TREE NUT ALLERGY: Some tree nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios and walnut tend to cause allergies in people. People with tree nut allergies may be allergic to a single type of tree nut or they may be allergic to two or more different tree nuts.
- WHEAT ALLERGY: A wheat allergy causes a person’s immune system to react abnormally to proteins found only in wheat. It normally develops in infants and tends to disappear within five years. Adults who develop a wheat allergy, however, are likely to retain it. Consult your allergist before reintroducing your child to wheat products.
There is no cure for food allergies
the only way to avoid a reaction is to avoid contact with any specific allergens that affect you. An allergic reaction can usually be treated effectively with a prompt injection of epinephrine. However, without treatment, the reaction may become severe and lead to death. If an allergist diagnoses you with a food allergy and prescribes an epinephrine auto-injector, learn how to use it properly and carry it with you at all times. It could save your life.