Food allergies in Stuart
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Food Allergies

 

Up to 15 million people in the United States –including 1 in 13 children– are affected by some type of food allergy.

 

It doesn’t matter if you were diagnosed recently or brushing up on the facts, the key to staying safe and living well with food allergies is learning all you can about the disease.

 
 
 
What is Food Allergy?
 

The main function of the body’s immune system is to recognize and destroy germs such as bacteria or viruses, which make you sick However, the immune system might mistakenly targets a harmless food protein – an allergen – as a threat and attacks it. The result of this process is a food allergy.

 

When you exhibit a food allergy, is because your immune system is producing abnormally large amounts of an antibody called immunoglobulin E, IgE for short. IgE antibodies fight the “enemy” food allergens by releasing histamine and other chemicals, which trigger the symptoms of an allergic reaction. This is why it’s said that unlike other types of food disorders, such as intolerances, food allergies are “IgE mediated.”

 
 
 
Signs and symptoms of food allergy: Diagnosis
 

Depending on the individual, an allergic reaction to a certain food may vary from a mild skin reaction to a severe life-threatening shock. It is not an infectious disorder and cannot be transmitted from person to person.

The clinical features of food allergy may vary between children and adults. The children usually present with rashes and redness of the skin accompanied with itching or even blisters in occasional cases. The clinical presentation in adults is more direct and manifested as nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating or cramps, accompanied with diarrhoea.

 

However, respiratory features including cough, shortness of breath have also been documented both in children and adults with an allergic reaction to food allergen. Then, there is no set demarcation in clinical presentation between children and adults and overlapping of symptoms may also take place.

To diagnose the allergic condition certain diagnostic tests like skin prick test or blood test may be conducted. Also non-invasive tests like ‘elimination test’ are recommended in some individuals to establish the diagnosis. ‘Elimination test’ involves the elimination of the suspecting food allergen from the diet for a few days and then resuming it again.


 
 
 
Causes and prevention of food allergy
 

Genetic factors may play a strong role in causation of food allergy; however the exact cause of this allergic phenomenon is not clear. Generally, it is associated with other allergic conditions like allergic rhinitis, atopic eczema or asthma. In children, the common food allergens are milk and eggs.

 

On the other hand, adults are usually more sensitive to products like lobsters, shrimp, crabs, nuts and soybeans.

 

 
 
 
Food allergy: Complications
 

Anaphylactic reaction is a severe reaction occasionally caused by Food allergy. It is characterised by narrowing of air passages resulting in shortness of breath. Additionally, the individual may also have hoarseness of voice and swelling of the voice box.

 

This condition may result in anaphylactic shock wherein the airways are seriously compromised and the individual loses consciousness, but it’s not a common case. However, if immediate medical attention is not provided, even death may be caused.
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