Food Allergy

Food AllergyAn abnormal reaction on ingesting food maybe due to intolerance to this specific food or allergy to that food. Unlike the first case scenario which is not serious and resolve with food manipulation, the latter maybe more serious and associated with death unless the affected person is evaluated and followed closely by an experienced physician.

Q: What are food allergies?

A: When some people eat certain foods, even a tiny bit, they can have a reaction, such as a rash, runny nose or itchy eyes. Some can have a more serious reaction that can be life-threatening, called anaphylaxis.
A food that causes an allergic reaction is called a food allergen, which is usually the protein part of the food.

Q: Which foods cause allergic reactions?

A: The foods responsible food allergy depend on the exposure of the population, as certain food are more ingested in certain parts of the world. In developed countries, the 8 foods causing most of food allergy reactions include:

  • Milk
  • Egg
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

Both raw and cooked foods can cause allergic reactions. So, cooking a food does not, usually, prevent it from causing an allergic reaction.

Children will often outgrow an allergy to eggs, milk, wheat and soy.

Q: Can food allergy be treated?

A: Once you have food allergies, there is no medicine that make it go away. If you are allergic to a certain food, the only way to make sure you won’t have a reaction is to never taste, touch or even smell the food.

Q: How do i know if i have food allergies?

A: If you think you are allergic to a food, an allergist will do certain tests to find out which foods you are allergic to.

Food AllergyQ: What are the signs of a food allergy?

A: Reactions to food can affect many body parts including:

  • The skin could become red, itchy or develop a rash.
  • The nose could become stuffy or itchy, sneezing, or the eyes could itch and develop tears.
  • There maybe vomit, have stomach cramps or diarrhea.
  • There maybe dizziness.
  • There maybe chest tightness and difficulty breathing.

Q: Is food allergies dangerous?

A: Yes. Food allergies can lead to death. If the following happens after you eat something, call an ambulance immediately:

  • Hoarseness, throat tightness, or a lump in your throat.
  • Wheezing, chest tightness or having a hard time breathing.

Food AllergyQ: What should I do if I have food allergies?

A: Avoid the food you’re allergic to. If, for example, you’re allergic to milk, avoid milk, yogurt, ice cream and anything that is made with milk.

Food labels usually list all the ingredients in any given food, so check the labels before eating. If you see one of your food allergens is listed, don't eat the food.
The problem, though, is that a food protein can have more than one name. Different names for some food ingredients appear below:

Milk proteins:

  • Casein, caseinates, rennet casein
  • Lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactoglobulin, lactulose

Egg proteins:

  • Albumin
  • Meringue or meringue powder
  • These items also may include egg protein: artificial flavors; lecithin; macaroni; marzipan; marshmallows; nougat, and pasta.

Peanuts proteins:

  • Artificial nuts, beer nuts, ground nuts, mixed nuts, monkey nuts, nut pieces
  • Cold pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil or arachis oil
  • Mandelonas
  • Peanut butter, peanut flour
  • These items may include peanut protein: African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai and Vietnamese dishes; baked goods; candy; chili; egg rolls; enchilada sauce; flavoring; marzipan; nougat, and sunflower seeds.

Q: If someone have food allergy, will he ever outgrow it?

A: Certain foods such as eggs, milk, & wheat are usually outgrown by later life. However, other foods may not have such good course. After you see an allergist, the prognosis of your food allergy will be discussed depending on your test results.

Q: Can food allergy be prevented?

A: Many studies aimed at decreasing or delaying the occurrence of allergies in children with family history of allergies. Below are some advices to help reducing the risk of your child developing allergic rhinitis, food allergy, atopic eczema &/ or asthma:

  1. Maternal smoking, active or passive, during pregnancy is associated with increased wheezing during infancy. Exposing children to secondhand smoke in the home has also been shown to increase the development of asthma and other chronic respiratory illnesses. Therefore, it is extremely important that infants not be exposed to tobacco smoke before or after they are born.
  2. Breast feeding for the recommended time period of at least 6 months strengthens children's immune systems, This practice has been shown to reduce percentage of allergic diseases in later life.
  3. Other specific recommendations for newborns who are at very high risk include:
    • Consumption of Probiotics by mothers during last trimester of pregnancy and breast-feeding.
    • Solid foods should not be introduced to high-risk infants until 6 months of age.
    • Consumption of dairy products should be delayed until 1 year, eggs until 2 years, and peanuts, nuts, and fish until 3 years of age.
    • Diets rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids should be encouraged during the second half of pregnancy.
    • Reducing contact with major environmental allergens is shown to reduce development of environmental allergies including asthma. This is especially for House dust mites. However, recent medical data have suspected such relationship.

(For the proper measures on house dust mite control, Please see the section on controlling indoor allergens)