Food allergy is a very common issue that can occur to anyone including children and adults. It is a condition under which certain food products trigger abnormal immune responses in your body. Though any food can cause an allergic reaction issue but primarily 8 foods are there which are widely recognized as main sources of food allergic problems.
As per the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases record in America 5 % of children and 4% of adults are affected with food allergy. Whereas worldwide count of the food allergy affected people is about 250 million to 550 million people and this count is rising every year.
The reason why the food allergy problem happens is that the immune system in your body mistakenly recognizes some of the proteins existing in foods as harmful pathogens like bacteria and viruses. Hence it gives immediate protective reactions by releasing certain chemicals such as histamine which causes inflammation and other symptoms of food allergy.
People who have food allergy issue often starts developing its signs and symptoms even with the exposure of very little content of the problematic food. The symptoms may start appearing just within a few minutes or even after a few hours later of the exposure of allergic foods.
Vomiting, diarrhea, rash, itching, etc are the common symptoms of an allergic reaction. However, in severe cases, it can cause anaphylaxis. The allergic reaction symptoms that come very quickly include swelling in throat or tongue, itchy rash, low blood pressure, and breathing shortness. Some of the food allergy cases are highly fatal and need immediate hospitalization.
Sometimes food intolerance is mistakenly considered as a food allergy. However, in reality, food intolerance never interferes with your immune system that means there is no chance of any protective reaction by your body in the case of food intolerance. The food intolerance though can affect your quality of life but it is no way a life-threatening condition.
Basically food allergies are divided into two types such as IgE antibody or non-IgE antibody. In the case of IgE food allergy, an IgE antibody is released by your immune system which is a type of blood protein that recognizes and fights with infection. On the other hand in the case of non-IgE food allergy, the IgE antibody is not released and in order to fight with the expected threat other parts of the immune system are used.
Main Sources of Food Allergic Problem
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Though any food can cause allergic reaction effects on your body but the most common foods that account for about 90% of total food allergies also known as “Big Eat” are the main sources of the allergic problems discussed below.
Eggs are one of the most common causes or sources of food allergy in children. However, in most cases children who have an allergic issue with egg consumption automatically get rid of this problem by the time they turn to 16. The symptoms of eggs allergic reaction include-
- Skin reactions such as rashes or hives.
- Stomach ache
- Respiratory issues
- In rare condition, Anaphylaxis
As per one study report, people who have allergy with eggs possibility lies that they may get allergic with only egg whites, not the yolks. Again possibility lies that a person may have allergy with yolks only not with egg whites. This particularly happens because the protein existing in egg whites and yolks are slightly different than one another.
So depending upon a person’s immune system one person may get allergic to its one part not with another one. However, the protein that is found in egg whites mostly develops the allergy problem with a comparison to egg yolks. This is the reason egg white allergy is very common.
Children who have an allergy to egg intake can avoid this allergic reaction issue by avoiding the consumption of an egg in the diet. However, they need not require to avoid all egg-rich foods which use eggs as their ingredient. This is because during the heating process the responsible proteins shape changes. Hence it is safe to eat the egg-related foods which undergone the heating process. As per one study report, 70% of children who have allergy with eggs can easily manage to eat biscuits, cakes, etc that contain the component of a cooked egg.
Similarly baked goods that contain eggs are also safe for children with an egg allergy. Moreover, the consumption of these goods can reduce these children’s outgrowing period to this food allergy. However, this theory is not applicable for all children who have allergy with eggs intake and in certain cases ingesting eggs in spite of an allergy to them can cause severe impact. So for the safer side, it is suggested to consult with your doctor before you own self take a decision regarding including egg-rich food in your children’s diet routine.
Little babies and young children are the greater victims of cow’s milk allergic reactions especially when they exposed to cow’s milk protein within six months of their birth time. Approx. 2 to 3% toddlers and babies are recognized affected with this allergy problem which is one of the most common childhood phase allergies.
However, usually, this allergy is mostly relieved automatically by more than 90% of children by the age of three. So cow’s milk allergy cases are less common among adults. Children who have allergy with this food can develop both forms of a food allergy that is IgE and non-IgE food allergy. However, IgE cow milk allergy is more common than the non-IgE form of cow milk allergy and even it can turn to very serious.
- Hives or rashes
- In rare cases Anaphylaxis
In the case of non-IgE cow’s milk allergy children and adults develop more gut-based signs or symptoms such as-
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Inflammation of the gut wall
In the case of non-IgE milk allergy, its diagnosis is very difficult because in some cases its symptoms resemble food intolerance. Moreover, there is no particular blood test for the diagnosis of this allergy reaction.
In order to avoid the cow’s milk allergy for both children and adults, it is vital to avoid cow’s milk as well as foods that contain this milk in the diet routine. The concerned person must avoid the intake of all foods and drinks that contain milk, milk powder, butter, yogurt, cheese, cream, margarine, and ice-cream.
The breastfeeding mothers who have babies with a cow’s milk allergy need to remove the consumption of cow’s milk and all foods or drinks that contains its components so that its effect will not pass through their milk in babies body. Babies who are not at breastfeeding their parents can get a better alternative to cow’s milk-based formula after consulting with the pediatrician.
Many people have allergies with shellfish whenever they consume them. The allergy caused by this is primarily from the mollusk and crustacean fish family. Some commonly consumed shellfishes include Crayfish, Prawns, Lobster, Shrimp, Scallops and Squid. The protein which triggers to seafood allergy is known as tropomyosin.
Apart from this other responsible protein that triggers your immune response include arginine kinase and myosin light chain. The symptoms of shellfish allergy are similar to other common IgE food allergies and they come very quickly.
Symptoms of a shellfish allergy usually come on quickly and are similar to other IgE food allergies. However, sometimes it is difficult to differentiate the seafood allergy with a contaminated seafood reaction such as viruses, bacteria or other parasites. In such cases, the symptoms are typically similar including diarrhea, vomiting, and pain in the stomach.
As the shellfish allergy does not resolve over time so to avoid this allergic reaction issue it’s better to exclude all types of shellfish from your diet if you have allergy with them. People who have allergies with this food source often develop allergic symptoms even with the contact of vapors derive from shellfish recipe during its cooking. This is the reason shellfish allergic people are advised to stay away from the place where it is cooked.
Fish is another important diet source among the list of primary food sources for allergic problems. As per one study report, 2 % of adults are affected by fish allergies. Just like shellfish allergy, even fish allergy contains the risk of serious impacts and potentially fatal allergic response. A person with a fish allergy problem develops the following symptoms-
- In rare condition anaphylaxis
In order to avoid the fatal allergic response in people who are allergic to fish it is always advised to carry epi-pen with them every time as it can protect from its severe impacts under the cases where it used to be eaten by the allergic person accidentally.
Sometimes a fish allergy symptom is misunderstood as reactions to a contaminant existing in fishes such as viruses, bacteria, and toxins. People who are allergic to shellfish may not be allergic to fish because fish with fins and shellfish do not carry the same proteins that trigger an allergic response in a person. Also, people who are allergic to fish may not develop this response with every other type of fish intake. Usually, people remain allergic to a few types of fishes and in certain cases with all types of fish.
Soy allergies are very common among children mostly infants and children aging under three. Their body triggered by the proteins existing in soybeans and soybeans containing food products. However, in 70% of cases, children who are allergic to soy products outgrow this allergy as they get older. The symptoms of soy allergies include-
- Tingly mouth
- Rashes on the skin
- Runny nose
- Asthma or difficulty in breathing
- Anaphylaxis (in the rare case)
Sometimes babies who are allergic to cow’s milk are also found allergic to soybeans and its products like soy sauce, soy milk, etc. As soy is a very common ingredient used in many food products so it is vital to read the food label very carefully before buying any food from the market for your baby. To avoid this allergy trigger one should avoid the intake of soybeans and soy products in the diet once this allergy trigger is diagnosed.
Wheat allergy is also one of the common sources of food allergic problems. People who are allergic to wheat get triggers out of one of the proteins existing in wheat. The wheat allergy is very common among children. However, children with wheat allergy issues usually outgrow this problem by the time they turn to 10 years old. Symptoms of wheat allergy include-
- In rare cases Anaphylaxis
Wheat allergy is mostly confused with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity as both of them develop similar digestive symptoms. However, the actual wheat allergy triggers an immune response out of one of the hundred proteins existing in wheat. The response could be severe and in certain cases fatal too.
This is the major difference between the wheat allergy and celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity as the latter one doesn’t lead to life-threatening conditions. The celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are triggered by a specific protein i.e. gluten which is also found in wheat.
So to avoid this trigger people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity should avoid wheat and foods that contain gluten from their diet. On the other hand, people who are allergic to wheat only require to exclude wheat from their diet as their body can easily tolerate gluten existing in grains other than wheat.
Skin prick testing method is used in order to diagnose a wheat allergy. Just like other food allergies in order to avoid wheat allergy a person with a wheat allergy should exclude wheat and wheat-containing products from their diet.
Peanuts allergy is also one of the prominent sources of food allergic problems. Peanut allergy is very common and it can develop severe and potentially fatal allergic responses. Why people get allergic to peanut is unknown however, it is considered that family history of peanut allergy increases its risk.
Previously it was believed that breastfeeding babies can transmit this allergy from their mother if the mother is having peanut rich diet routine. However, another study report says that introducing peanuts in the early stages of life can prove effective in reducing its allergic impacts by getting kids used to the protein content existing in this.
As per one study report overall 4 to 8% of children and 1 to 2 % of adults are affected with peanut allergy problems. However, 15 to 22% of children who are allergic to peanuts outgrow this allergy by the time they enter into their teenage phase of life.
The diagnosis tests which help in diagnosing the peanut allergy in a person include assessing the patient’s health history, blood tests, skin prick test, and food changes. The only relief and protection from this food allergy are to avoid peanuts and peanut-containing food products from the diet routine.
For children with peanut allergy issue new treatment techniques are introduced which includes giving a very little amount of peanuts in diet routine under direct medical supervision. This technique helps in desensitizing this allergy response.
Last but not the least tree nuts allergy is another common source of food allergic problems. This type of allergy develops out of the intake of certain nuts and seeds that come from trees. This food allergy accounts for about 1 % of the total US population. Some common tree nuts that can trigger allergy includes-
People who are allergic to tree nuts also develop allergy symptoms out of the intake of all food products made with these nuts such as oils, butter, etc. So to avoid this food allergy symptom it is advised to avoid the consumption of all tree nuts even if someone is allergic to one or two types as well as food products made with these nuts.
This type of precaution measure can protect you from getting allergic to other types of tree nuts that are not allergic to you currently. The tree nuts allergy are very severe in nature and may even cause death risks if the affected persons develop the symptoms of anaphylaxis. As per one study report, 50% of cases of anaphylaxis related deaths are caused by the tree nuts allergy.
This is the reason people who are nut-allergic or have the potential to develop other types of life-threatening allergies should always carry epi-pen all the time in order to avoid sudden traumatic health risks. The shot of epi-pen can provide adrenaline (a hormone that stimulates fight or flight response) in your body immediately which shows its instant effect by preventing the outbreak of severe allergic reaction symptoms. It plays the role of a life savior by reversing the effect of food allergy or any other type of allergy in the body.
The symptoms of a food allergic reaction occur in the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, and cardiovascular system. Some of the most commonly occurring signs and symptoms of a food allergy include-
- Vomiting accompanied by stomach cramp
- Swelling in lips, tongue, face, throat and other parts of the body
- Hoarse throat and difficulty in swallowing
- Itching and tingling sensation in the mouth
- Skin sensitivity such as itching, hives, and eczema
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
- Diarrhea, abdominal cramp, and nausea
- Nasal congestion, wheezing and breathing shortness
In the cases of severe food allergy, symptoms are more threatening called anaphylaxis. The symptoms of anaphylaxis include-
- Rapid pulse
- Shock with a sudden drop in blood pressure level
- Constriction and airways tightening
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and faintness
- The sensation of lumps in the throat that causes difficulty in breathing
- Swollen throat
Anaphylaxis is a critical condition and its emergency treatment is difficult. If immediate treatment is not given to the patient then it can cause coma and even death in some cases.
Elimination of Allergen Diets
The patients who develop food allergy needs to visit a dietitian for proper guidance and diet suggestion. After considering your health history if required certain foods will be eliminated from your diet routine in such a way that it would no way impact your overall health and fitness. What food group will be eliminated completely or partially depends upon the necessity of that food’s nutrients in life. In such cases, if one essential food eliminated from the diet then it is ensured that the patient can get that lacked protein through an alternate diet source.
For example, if a person’s body is allergic to milk then the dietitian will ensure that you get protein and calcium two vital nutrients through some other sources. Again if you have an allergy to food which elimination will no way impact your health then there is no harm in its complete elimination from your diet. For example, people who are allergic to peanuts can freely eliminate their intake as it will not impact your health anyway.
Regarding the elimination of diets from one’s lifestyle doesn’t mean only about removing the intake of that food. It may also mean that you have to protect yourself from touching or inhaling it and avoiding the consumption of allergic food traces.
Also, people with severe allergy risk should always read the labels of foods and drinks carefully before purchasing it. Apart from this some pet foods, adhesives, glues, and some soaps contain traces of food allergen. So these things must be avoided in order to ensure full health safety.
Under the medical emergency cases of food allergy following medications ingestion helps in controlling the patient’s condition.
These medications are given to the patient for immediate relief from allergic reactions. It comes in the form of liquids, gels, and tablets. This medication blocks the impact of histamines in the body which is the most common chemical that causes allergy symptoms.
This medication is given to the patients who have a food allergy that has the potential to develop anaphylaxis symptoms. The Epinephrine doses restrain your blood pressure from getting down by constricting the blood vessels. Also, it relieves the discomforts generated in airways due to allergic reactions.
Healthcare specialists always recommend to patients with severe allergic reactions to carry epinephrine auto-injector such as EpiPen, EpiPen Jr., Twinject, or Anapen with them to avoid emergency situations.
The above mentioned main sources of food allergic problems must be avoided in order to protect oneself from the discomforting and severe symptoms of food allergy. Also if anyone notices the symptoms of severe food allergy then without making further delay the patients should be hospitalized immediately otherwise it can be life-threatening too.
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