Food Allergies

MANILA, Philippines - Many of us, at one time or another, have unpleasant reaction to something that we eat. And more often than not, we conclude it is a food allergy. But is it always a food allergy - whenever we experience an adverse reaction to something we eat.

Let me share with you some interesting basic information that I got from the internet as well as from medical books:-

• Do you know that the recognition of food allergy was first recorded by the famous Greek physician Hippocrates who observed that milk could cause gastric upset and hives (ulticaria);

• Do you know that the frequency of food allergies and the number of individuals who have food allergies has increased dramatically in recent times;

• Do you know that food allergy which is an immune system reaction that occurs after eating certain foods can cause mild reaction like itching or more serious reaction like facial pressure, headache, swelling of the lips or face or other parts of the body; or in a worse scenario, a life threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. In anaphylaxis, a procedure known as tracheostomy may be necessary so the person can breathe. What happens in this case is the constriction and tightening of airways resulting in difficulty in breathing, shock with a severe drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse, dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness. Untreated anaphylaxis can cause coma or death;

• Do you know that food allergy symptoms usually develop within a few minutes to two (2) hours after eating the offending food;

• Do you know that children can outgrow their food allergies but adults usually do not;

• Do you know that symptoms of allergy vary from person to person. Also, the amount of food needed to trigger an allergic reaction also varies from one person to another;

• Do you know that the most common food allergies known as "the big eight" allergies are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy and wheat. Do you know also that allergies to seeds especially sesame seem to be increasing nowadays in many countries;

• Do you know that in a report issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics: "there is evidence that breastfeeding for at least 4 months, compared with feeding infants formula made with intact cow milk protein, prevents or delays the occurrence of atopic dermatitis, cow milk allergy, and wheezing in early childhood";

• Do you know that the mainstay of treatment for allergy is avoidance of the foods that have been identified as allergens. But this is easier said than done. I have a friend who is allergic to monosodium glutamate, a kind of food additive that is added to food to enhance taste. My friend has always ready anti-allergy tablets in her handbag in case the food flavoring is added when she eats in restaurants. She has had mild reactions in the past. Except that one time, she had difficulty of breathing and she developed sudden pain in her chest. Probably she ate too much of the food containing the food additive. She was rushed to the hospital;

• Do you know that there is a finding that a person with two allergic parents is more likely to develop food allergies than someone with only one allergic parent;

• Do you know that if a person has a history of a severe allergy to shrimp, it is also possible that, that person can likewise be allergic to crab, lobster and crayfish. This is known as the cross-reactivity condition. Meaning, that there are occurrences of allergic reactions to food that are chemically or otherwise related to foods that one has allergy to;

• Do you know that the condition known as lactose intolerance affects at least one out of ten people. If a person does not have enough lactase enzyme, then the body cannot digest the lactose in most milk product and as a consequence, the person experiences bloating, abdominal pain and sometimes diarrhea. Fortunately, there is now a so-called lactase tablet to relieve a person with lactose intolerance;

• Do you know that there is also a condition known as gluten intolerance which is associated with the so-called celiac disease. It is caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten which is a component of wheat and some other grains;

• Do you know that there is an exercise-induced food allergy. People who experience this reaction usually eat a specific food before exercising. As they exercise and their body temperature goes up, they begin to itch, get lightheaded and soon have allergic reactions such as hives or in severe cases, anaphylaxis condition ensue (anaphylaxis explain earlier in this article). The treatment for exercise-induce food allergy is simply not to eat the suspected food for a couple of hours before exercising;

• Do you know that it is advisable for people with certain food allergies to read food labels carefully and to avoid restaurant-prepared foods that might have ingredients to which they are allergic. Because in highly allergic people even small amounts of food allergen can trigger an allergic reaction although other less sensitive people may be able to tolerate small amounts of a food to which they are allergic.

Have a joyful day!

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