Have you ever felt like you or someone you know is constantly coughing and sneezing? When a cough isn’t just a cough, it could be allergy. In fact, allergies are a major cause of illness in the US. Data shows that as many as 50 million people – about one in five – have allergies.
- Food Allergy
- Skin Allergy
- Dust Allergy
- Insect Sting Allergy
- Pet Allergy
- Eye Allergy
- Drug Allergies
- Allergic Rhinitis
- Latex Allergy
- Mold Allergy
- Sinus Infection
- Cockroach Allergy
An allergy occurs when your body’s natural defenses overreact to exposure to a particular substance, treating it as an invader and sending out chemicals to defend against it.
Food allergies are estimated to affect 4% to 6% of children and 4% of adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children, but they can appear at any age. You can even develop an allergy to foods you have eaten for years with no problems. Do you suspect you’re suffering from a food allergy? An allergist can evaluate your symptoms and determine the source.
The body’s immune system keeps you healthy by fighting off infections and other dangers to good health. A food allergy reaction occurs when your immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in a food, identifying it as a danger and triggering a protective response.
While allergies tend to run in families, it is impossible to predict whether a child will inherit a parent’s food allergy or whether siblings will have a similar condition. Some research does suggest that the younger siblings of a child with a peanut allergy will also be allergic to peanuts.
Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe. Just because an initial reaction causes few problems doesn’t mean that all reactions will be similar; a food that triggered only mild symptoms on one occasion may cause more severe symptoms at another time.
The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis — life-threatening whole-body allergic reactions that can cause difficulty in breathing, cause a sudden drop in your blood pressure and affect your heart rate. Anaphylaxis can come on within minutes of exposure to the trigger food. It can be fatal and must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline).
While any food can cause an adverse reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all reactions:
- Tree nuts
Certain seeds, including sesame and mustard seeds (the main ingredient in the condiment mustard), also are common food allergy triggers and considered a major allergen in some countries.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may involve the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory tract. They 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 (for example, a stomachache accompanied by a rash)
A food allergy will usually cause some sort of reaction every time the trigger food is eaten. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and you may not always experience the same symptoms during every reaction. Allergic reactions to food can affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system. It is impossible to predict how severe the next reaction might be, and all patients with food allergies should be carefully counseled about the risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction that is treated with epinephrine (adrenaline).
While food allergies may develop at any age, most appear in early childhood. If you suspect a food allergy, see an allergist, who will take your family and medical history, decide which tests to perform (if any) and use this information to determine if a food allergy exists.
Originally published at https://acaai.org/