Some common food allergies and ways to manage them
At some point in time, we all have experienced allergies to one substance or other. The substances which cause an allergic reaction are known as ‘triggers’. These may be dust, pollen from flowers, hay, animals and even certain foods. Food allergies are the most common of the lot and these are equally capable of making us uncomfortable. Before we proceed any further, let us understand what is meant by the term ‘allergy’. When your body’s natural defenses overreact to exposure to a particular substance, treating it as an invader and sending out chemicals to defend the body against it, this is when an allergy occurs.
Food allergies are estimated to affect 4-6 % of children and 4% of adults. Food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children. You can even develop allergy to foods, you have eaten for years with no problems.
While any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food cause common food allergies. The foods causing common food allergies are the following.
- Tree Nuts
Certain seeds like sesame and mustard seeds are also triggers for common food allergies. The food which is eaten often is the cause of common food allergies like for example, rice in Japan.
Food Allergy Symptoms
Food allergy symptoms may range from mild to severe. All reactions would not be similar-it would vary from time to time. Initially, if a food has triggered mild food allergy symptoms then it does not necessarily mean that the next time, the symptoms would be mild and not severe. Symptoms of common food allergies may involve the skin, the gastro-intestinal tract, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory tract. Food allergy symptoms can surface in one or more of the following ways.
- Vomiting and/or stomach cramps
- Shortness of breath
- Repetitive cough
- Shock or circulatory collapse
- Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing
- Swelling of the tongue, affecting the ability to talk or breathe
- Weak pulse
- Pale or blue coloring of skin
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Anaphylaxis (a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock; reactions may simultaneously affect different parts of the body)
Managing common food allergies
One of the most basic ways to manage the symptoms of food allergies is through the avoidance of consumption, of those foods that cause problems. Once you’ve been diagnosed with a food allergy, your allergist should prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and teach you how to use it. Use epinephrine immediately if you experience severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, repetitive coughing, weak pulse, hives, and tightness in your throat. You have trouble breathing or swallowing, or have a combination of symptoms from different body areas, such as hives, rashes or swelling on the skin coupled with vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain. Repeated doses of this drug might be necessary to combat such food allergies. Also, you can start a food diary and record the different foods you eat, each day and when you eat them. Record any food allergy symptoms that you may experience as well as the time, the symptoms begin.