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Food allergies are, perhaps, the most fearsome allergies to deal with. Other allergens (allergy causing substances) can be avoided to a great extent, but food is not an avoidable substance. It also appears that in allergy susceptible people, the likelihood of developing an allergy increases with exposure. Allergic reactions to foods cause a variety of symptoms some of them deadly. It is a good idea, when introducing new foods to children, to do so slowly. This will enable the parent to determine, if there is an allergic reaction, which food is the allergen. As a general rule, wait 72 hours before introducing a second new food. Food allergies are much less common than pollen allergies, however there are still an estimated 12 million Americans who suffer from food allergies.
Although any food can be an allergen, there are eight foods that account for 90% of the food related allergic reactions. These are:
- Tree Nuts
Symptoms of food related allergy can ran the gamut from mild tingling in the mouth to full blown anaphylactic shock. Generally these symptoms will occur within minutes of exposure, although it can take up to two hours before symptoms are present. Other food allergy reactions include swelling of the tongue, swelling in the throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
It is also important to differentiate between food allergy and food sensitivity. Allergies are caused by an immunologic reaction to the proteins in the food. Food intolerance is caused by inability to digest food due to a lack of necessary digestive enzymes. Food intolerance can cause similar symptoms to food allergies, including gas, diarrhea, headaches, constipation and possibly rashes. Allergic reactions, however, can be much more serious.
Immediate treatment of a food related allergic reaction is imperative! Currently there is no â€˜cureâ€™ for food allergies. Individuals who have food allergies should carry epinephrine with them in the form of an EpiPen or Twinject. They should strictly avoid any contact with the offending food. In extreme instances, allergies can be so severe that even inhaling the food or touching a surface, which has been in contact with the food, can cause a severe reaction. A qualified doctor should prepare an emergency plan of action for accidental exposure to the allergen.
Strictly avoiding the allergy causing food should be easy, but it is actually more difficult than it would seem. It is not enough just to avoid peanuts, for example. You must also avoid foods manufactured in plants where peanut containing foods are manufactured. Additionally, simply avoiding eggs and purchasing egg substitute may not prevent exposure as some egg substitutes contain egg whites. Many products contain casein, which is a milk protein, even though they donâ€™t actually contain milk. The casein can cause the same symptoms as the milk. Foodallergy.org is an excellent source for those suffering from food allergies. This website provides excellent suggestions for living with food allergies as well as support for those affected.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
If you find yourself avoiding certain fresh fruits, vegetables, or nuts because of an itchy, burning allergic reaction in your mouth, you may have Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). If so, did you know your symptoms may not be year round?
Symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)
- Itchy mouth and/or throat
- Burning in the mouth or throat
- Mouth or throat swelling
- Hives in the mouth
- Itchy, swollen lips
- Swelling or redness of the face
- Allergy symptoms only present during hay fever season
Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) may affect as many as 1/3 of the 40 million Americans with seasonal allergies. Unlike other allergies, it’s the combination of airborne allergens and proteins in the fruits and vegetables you eat that create the reaction. If you have OAS, then eating, say, a cantaloupe or a fresh tomato won’t give you an allergic reaction alone. So—fresh fruit in February won’t cause it. But if ragweed pollen is in the air, watch out!
OAS is a cross-reactivity of tree and plant pollens to certain similar fruit and vegetable proteins. Usually, if the fruit or vegetable has been cooked or processed (making tomatoes into salsa, or cucumbers into pickles), they will not cause a reaction in people with OAS, or will cause a milder reaction than fresh fruits and vegetables.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), certain pollen hay fever (allergic rhinitis) allergies are linked to a likelihood of having temporary food allergy symptoms. The 2 pollens most likely to cause a cross-reactivity reaction are ragweed and birch tree. Check out the chart below to find out where your OAS flare-ups are likely to come from, based on an allergy to Ragweed and/or Birch Tree pollen.
Ragweed-related Food Allergies
If you’re allergic to Ragweed, you may also have a reaction to the following (during ragweed pollen season only, usually late summer to fall):
–Fresh cucumbers (pickles are usually ok)
–Cantaloupe, honeydew, and other melons
–Zucchini and similar summer squash
Birch-related Food Allergies
If you’re allergic to Birch Tree pollen allergies, you may also have a reaction to the following (during ragweed pollen season only, usually early spring to summer):
–Apples (fresh, usually only the skin)
Disclaimer: The allergy information on this website is strictly general information and should not be taken as official advice. Please schedule an appointment with an allergy doctor in order to get a proper and full allergy diagnosis.
This article was developed by Utah Allergy Associates of Utah and Adaptivity Pro SEO Services