Food Allergies – Fact and Fiction

Millions of people all over the world are affected by allergies. Tiny particles of dust in the air, a friend’s cat or even freshly cut flowers can lead to sneezing, itching and runny noses in some people. Though we are quite aware of external agents that cause allergies, we do not suspect the seemingly innocent glass of milk or bowl of fresh peanuts. After all, what can they do to us? Unfortunately, people who are allergic to these foods have to be very careful around such foodstuffs.

An allergy is a severe reaction of the body’s immune system. The immune system goes into overdrive when there is a perceived threat to the body. In this case, the body perceives an ingredient in the food, like protein, as potentially harmful and goes all out to attack this ingredient and you, in the process. This is what causes itching, rashes, hives or other reactions in the body. In mild cases, the reactions are also mild. However, some reactions are very uncomfortable and may even be fatal. Examples include vomiting, diarrhea, asthma, wheezing and anaphylaxis.

Food allergies may be caused by almost any ingredient in the food. Even so, specialists have identified eight common allergens that affect the most number of people. These are: wheat, egg, milk, soy, fish, peanuts, nuts of trees and shellfish.

There are a large number of myths surrounding food allergies.

Myth 1: Food allergies are very common.
Food allergies occur in less than 12% of the adult population. Of the 6-8% of children who suffer from food allergies, a huge majority outgrows their allergies as they age. Food intolerance is another matter. Food intolerance happens when a person is unable to digest or process a particular ingredient. Food intolerance produces mild though persistent reactions in the body, which is quite different from the severe allergic reactions caused by food allergens. A good majority of people suffer from food intolerance. Unfortunately, most people mistake food sensitivities for food allergies.

Myth 2: Most people are allergic to milk
Milk allergy is very uncommon in adults, though it is quite common in children below the age of 3. Most children outgrow their allergies as they grow. Adults may experience bloating, nausea or breathing problems after ingesting milk products. But these reactions are a result of being lactose intolerant.

Myth 3: Food allergy is only lifestyle threatening, not life threatening.
This is a serious misconception. Food sensitivity is lifestyle threatening, food allergies can become life threatening. This is because of the inherent nature of allergies, where the body produces severe and sometimes violent reactions to counter an attack. Food allergies are particularly life threatening in small children as they can accidentally ingest something that can cause a violent allergic reaction.

Food allergies must be treated immediately and patients need to be taken to a doctor as soon as possible.

Food allergies can be diagnosed by conducting allergy and intolerance tests. Once an allergy is detected, sufferers must avoid those foods. This is the only way in which food allergies can be treated. Of course, there are medications to relieve symptoms, but, as they say, prevention is always better than cure.

Food Allergy In Children – How To Manage Your Child’s Allergies

Allergy is prevalent both in adults and babies these days. You would be alarmed to hear that out of the total population that suffers from allergies, 6% constitutes children, especially infants. You never know when an allergy will come. Okay…how does allergy occur? As soon as the immune system starts to react differently for the food items that you generally take, it means you are allergic to that type of food.

When I say babies are prone to food allergies, I’m sure many parents will wonder how and why? Am I not true in saying that for every parent, their children is their world? You give them with all the basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter and above all, good care. It is essential that you be aware of the food items that your child is allergic to as sometimes, it may even cause death.

You get a lot of food items like pizza, burger, cheese, milk, pasta, fishes, etc. and your child may be allergic to one or more of these food items. It is the duty of each and every parent to take care of their child’s health and that too when allergies are more prevalent. Necessary steps have to be taken to ensure that the child is not experiencing any uneasiness due to allergies. You will have to be extra careful if you are introducing solid foods to your infant.

Let us see how an allergy occurs as this will help you understand how to prevent as well as manage food allergies. As soon as the child eats a food item that is allergic to him/her, IgE (antibodies) will be produced by the body. The next time when the same food is eaten by your child, IgE will inform the immune system for producing histamines. Histamines are produced to fight against the allergens. In general, allergens are harmless; however, it is the immune system that mistakes this to be harmful for the child and will start to attack it. Due to this, a child may get symptoms and signs of allergy. These symptoms may occur within few minutes or in two hours depending on the response from the immune system.

Allergic symptoms fall into two categories, namely, mild and severe. Mild symptoms include:

a) Swelling of skin, or parts of the body like ears, mouth, tongue, etc.
b) Rashes, which are itchy.
c) Discomfort in breathing
d) Vomiting
e) Diarrhea

In some cases, allergy is hereditary. Say for example, one of your family members is allergic towards milk, there are possibilities for your child to inherit this allergy. Some children do not show any signs of allergy when they start eating these food items; however, in the longer run may develop allergic signs and symptoms. Few food items that may cause allergy are:

a) Eggs
b) Milk
c) Fish
d) Peanuts
e) Treenuts

It is advisable to call the local emergency number immediately after your child shows allergic signs or symptoms. Why should you do this? It is because some allergies may even cause death. It is always good if you can detect the allergy at an earlier stage itself. If you get in touch with your pediatrician, he/she will be able to prepare and give you a plan of action to prevent allergy.

Tips For Hiring the Best Allergy Doctor

Allergies can cause a lot of trouble and in some cases, can even be fatal. Since people tend to live with allergies all their lives, it’s important that they fully understand their condition. They can do this by raising their awareness about their allergies, being educated and working with the right allergy doctor. Here are some tips for hiring the best allergy doctor for you and your family:

Go to a specialist
An allergy doctor is called an allergist or an immunologist. He or she is especially trained in the field, spending several years in medical school studying the nature and cause of allergies and their corresponding treatments. This means that if you go see a physician, you will have to check whether they are specialists in allergies as well. Other than their graduate education in medicine, they should have about 2 years of related education in allergy and/or immunology.

Look for an allergist that has training and experience for treating the specific allergy you are having problems with
Skin allergies are different from respiratory allergies. They are also not treated in the same way as animal allergies or food allergies. If you want to hire the best allergy doctor, always inquire regarding their specific field of practice. They’re more likely to treat you better if they have the necessary expertise.

Ask for referrals
Sometimes the best way to hire the best allergy doctor is to ask for referrals. Friends and family who may have allergies could help refer you to their allergist, which can help save you the time and effort in finding one.

Go local
Never hire an allergy doctor from out of state. If necessary, find the best one nearest your location. If they have to hold office in a location some distance from you, they should at least be accessible. In case there is an emergency, you should be able to get in touch with them in the shortest time possible.

Ask for doctor referrals.
Do this if you or a member of your family will be traveling to another region or state. This is so you have ready access to an allergist in case you need one.

Where to find the best allergy doctor
Before hiring an allergy doctor, go to the American Academy of Allergy, ┬áThis is an organization that represents the physicians who have a good standing in the field. The website has a database you can use for finding allergist members in your locality. Plus, the website also has some valuable information about allergies that you’ll find helpful

Tackling Wheat Allergies – Best Ways To Do So

It is quite common to find many children suffering from food allergies these days. Various foods can cause different types of allergies and the symptoms can also vary from mild to moderate to severe. It has been found that wheat is one of the top eight foods which cause allergies. Most of the food that is available contains wheat as an ingredient in one form or the other. Normally we find that it is children who are the main sufferers of wheat allergies though they soon outgrow them but sometimes even some adults tend to suffer from wheat allergies too.

The time taken for wheat allergy to show up after the food is eaten is normally anywhere between a few minutes to a few hours and the symptoms also can be anywhere between mild and severe. Anaphylaxis is a life threatening allergy symptom which needs immediate medical help. The common symptoms for wheat allergy include nasal congestion, swelling of the air way and inflammation, irritations on the skin or hives, or even nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. When the symptoms are more severe then the person can experience shock, dizziness, rapid pulse and constriction of the airways. Anyone found suffering from these symptoms would need immediate medical help as it can be life threaten.

If you find that you are suffering from wheat allergies than the best way is to avoid all wheat products in your diet. This will reduce your chances of getting an allergic reaction. The more the reactions the more severe the allergy is and therefore it is advisable to see your doctor immediately even if you find a mild symptom. Your doctor will then carry out a series of tests to find out if wheat was really the culprit for the allergy. Once it is verified that it is wheat which is the cause for the allergy than you will be advised to avoid all wheat products. You too will find it easier to avoid wheat products from your diet as most US manufacturers make it a point to list the ingredients on their food packages.

If you have a severe wheat allergic reaction your doctor would advise you to take what is called the Epipen treatment. In this treatment which is done as an emergency measure for wheat allergies an injection is given. You can also wear am bracelet which alerts people around you about your wheat allergy problems if you do happen to eat some wheat product by mistake. Wheat allergy sufferers are normally told to avoid all wheat products in their diets and to take anti histamine if by chance they get stricken by the allergy. Wheat allergies occur more commonly in children than in adults and even children tend to outgrow their wheat allergies as they grow up.

Shellfish Allergies Symptoms & Treatments Help

Shellfish allergies are caused by two classes of foods- mollusks which include clams, mussels, and oysters and crustaceans which include shrimp, lobster, and crabs. This also includes things lobster and shrimp, as well as octopus and squid. So, many people who are allergic to any shellfish are advised to avoid all shellfish.

Along with nuts, this is the next most common food cause of anaphylaxis.

Shellfish allergies are the most common type among adults in America, and they are more likely than most other allergies to manifest for the first time in adults.

For some people, even a tiny amount of shellfish can cause a serious reaction. Shellfish includes animals with shells, such as clams, lobster and shrimp, as well as octopus and squid. Shellfish includes animals with shells, such as clams, lobster and shrimp, as well as octopus and squid.

Does Iodine Allergy Also Mean a Shellfish Allergy Too?

Although certain shellfish are rich in iodine, there is no evidence that this will increase the risk of an iodine allergy, nor that people with shellfish allergies need to take precautions to avoid iodine when undergoing medical tests. Iodine is not related to the protein that causes shellfish allergies.

For some reason certain allergies get linked together even though they may be totally unrelated. This is what has happened with iodine and shellfish. There is no actual relationship between iodine allergy and the various seafood allergies.

Symptoms

The symptoms are different from having a reaction caused by toxins or bacteria. This type of food poisoning is common and can cause problems similar to a shellfish allergy. The difference being, it does not involve the immune system and only occurs when you eat food that has been contaminated.

Although symptoms can range from hives, vomiting or nasal congestion to more-severe and even life-threatening symptoms it is a major cause of anaphylactic shock. People have even been known to go into anaphylactic shock after breathing in airborne particles of shellfish or fish allergen in open fish markets.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body.
  • Wheezing, nasal congestion or even trouble breathing.
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.
  • Hives, itching or eczema.
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Tingling in the mouth may also occur.

The proteins that are most likely to cause a reaction are not found in the shell, and recent studies have indicated that glucosamine is safe for people with shellfish allergies; however, if you are concerned, you can try vegetarian glucosamine.

Role Of The FDA

Because shellfish are one of the eight most common allergens in the United States, they are covered by FALCPA the FDA’s Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act . This requires that the presence of shellfish be listed on labels in clear English, either in bold type or following the list of ingredients after the word “Contains ” However, FALCPA only refers to crustaceans, and not to mollusks. Shellfish are relatively easier to avoid in the diet than most of the other most common allergens.

Cross-Reactivity

Different types of shellfish have high rates of cross-reactions with other types of shellfish, as noted above. The protein that most commonly causes problems, tropomyosin is also found in dust mites and cockroaches as well, and there is some evidence of cross-reactivity between shellfish and some insects.

If the same pair of tongs is used to handle different types of fish and shellfish, or if you suspect one type of fish or shellfish may have spilled over and had contact with another, you should avoid buying or consuming.

Freshwater Shellfish Dangers

If you’re like me, those of you out there with shellfish allergies may also need to avoid freshwater shellfish. Just be very careful because many things at restaurants are contaminated by shellfish cooking on the same grill.

How To Protect Yourself

Beyond not eating at some restaurants, the greatest challenge in living with this problem is likely the fact that shellfish allergies pose a greater risk of anaphylactic shock than many other food allergies. If you suffer from this, strictly avoiding shellfish and food containing shellfish is the only way to prevent a reaction.

If your doctor is able to identify exactly which type causes your allergies, then you need to eliminate that type of shellfish from your diet.

The fish and shellfish allergy necessitates not eating in seafood restaurants at a very minimum. This may include not eating where fried foods are prepared if fish and shellfish are on the menu. For the shellfish allergic, stay away from all shelled fish- crab, lobster, shrimp and snails.

About Dairy Allergies – What is It, Treatment Options & More

There are a lot of misconceptions about dairy allergies. One of the major misunderstandings surrounding this allergy in particular is that it is often confused with lactose intolerance.

The Difference between Dairy Allergies and Lactose Intolerance

The first key difference to point out is that a food allergy is different from food intolerance. A true food allergy, in its most severe form, can lead to death. A food intolerance usually only means some form of bodily discomfort.

Lactose intolerance for example, is simply the body’s inability to break down the particular enzyme of the sugar found in milk. Because the body can’t break it down, this makes it hard to digest, leading to bodily discomfort like diarrhea, stomach pains and/or bloating.

A person who truly suffers from dairy allergies will have a more severe reaction. These can manifest as bleeding, asthma, pneumonia and in more severe cases, anaphylaxis (ie, shock). The difference in the body’s reaction lies in the fact that dairy allergies are caused by food allergens, which are invariably proteins. Food allergens are the specific parts of a food that set off allergic reactions in the body.

How can you be sure that you suffer from daily allergies? Following are two simple ways to test.

How to Determine If You Suffer from Dairy Allergies

One of the most common ways to determine if you suffer from dairy allergies is to keep a food diary. This is a vital component of what’s known as the elimination diet.

The basic concept of the elimination diet is to track and eliminate foods you suspect are causing your dairy allergic reactions. This is done over a series of weeks until symptoms decrease and/or dissipate altogether. Foods are gradually re-introduced into the diet to gauge which ones cause dairy allergy symptoms to return. The elimination diet is usually conducted under the guidance of a physician/allergist.

Blood and skin tests are other ways to test for dairy allergies as well. Dairy allergies can present extreme medical problems if not properly diagnosed. Hence, it’s always best to consult a qualified physician about which option diagnosis option is best for you.

The reason it’s important to understand the difference between lactose intolerance and true dairy allergies, is to get properly diagnosed to receive the right treatment.

Dairy Allergies: Avoidance is the Best

Those that have a dairy allergy must avoid the food causing the reaction altogether. If you avoid dairy products, a wide variety of other healthy options are available, eg, soy.

If dairy is accidentally ingested many use an epinephrine. Most are familiar with the EpiPen, for example, which contains epinephrine. It is often required for serious dairy allergy sufferers.

Medical Alert for Sufferers of Dairy Allergies

Dairy allergy sufferers must be vigilant to non-obvious dairy products that can often be found in foods. For example, they may be labeled as natural flavorings or seasonings. As with any food allergy, awareness and knowledge is power.