Food Allergies

Overview of Food Allergies

Food Allergies (کھانے کی الرجی) occur when the immune system reacts to certain nutrients in food as if they are harmful substances or pathogens i.e bacteria, viruses, and parasites. These are most common in children and infants, but in recent times they occur to anyone at any age. A food allergy can develop even with foods that people consume for years with no problem at all.

Food Allergies Meaning in Urdu

فوڈ الرجی کا سامنا اس وقت کرنا پڑتا ہے جب جسم کا مدافعتی نظام خوراک میں موجود خاص قسم کے پروٹین کی طرف ردِ عمل ظاہر کرتا ہے۔ عام طور پر فوڈ الرجیز شدت اختیار نہیں کرتیں، ان الرجیز کے شدت اختیار نہ کرنے کی صورت میں ہونٹوں کی سوزش کا سامنا کرنا پڑ سکتا ہے۔ جب کہ اگر یہ شدت اختیار کر جائیں تو جان لیوا بھی ثابت ہو سکتی ہیں، کیوں کہ اس سے سانس کی نالی شدید متاثر ہوتی ہے۔

Signs and Symptoms of Food Allergies

Symptoms of food allergies can vary from mild to severe and can affect every person differently. Every person has their own symptoms and not everyone has all the symptoms. The most common ones however observed include;

  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Skin Rashes
  • Tingling in the mouth and throat
  • Swelling in the face
  • Vomiting
  • Burning Sensation felt in mouth and lips
  • Trouble Swallowing
  • Repetitive Cough
  • Dizziness
  • Color change of skin

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Types of Food Allergies

There are three major types of food allergies observed. These are,

  • IgE-Mediated Food Allergy

IgE Food Allergy is the most common type of food allergy that is triggered by the immune system resulting in the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE). Symptoms start to show after a few minutes of food consumption.

  • Non-IgE-Mediated Food Allergy

Non-IgE Mediated Food Allergy reactions are not caused by immunoglobulin E but by some other cells of the immune system. This allergy is often very difficult to be diagnosed as the symptoms take up to several hours to develop.

  • Mixed IgE and non-IgE Food Allergy

Some people observe symptoms of both IgE and non-IgE allergies.

Causes of Food Allergies

Food Allergies are caused when the human brain misinterprets certain proteins found in the food as threats and in response triggers the release of antibodies called immunoglobulin (IgE) to neutralize the food causing allergy or the allergen.

The foods that are most commonly observed in causing food allergies include,

  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Milk
  • Tree Nuts (almonds. Pistachios and walnuts)
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Risk Factors of Food Allergies

The risk factors that might increase your chances of food allergies include,

  • Asthma

It has been noticed by several doctors that asthma and food allergies often occur together but the symptoms of asthma are more severe as compared to food allergies

  • Age

Food allergies are more commonly observed in children and especially toddlers. As the children grow, the digestive system matures and the chances of food allergies are lessened.

  • Family History

A person is more likely to suffer from food allergies if there is a family history of eczema, asthma, or hay fever.

  • Other Food Allergies

If a person is already allergic to a food, then it is very much likely that they might suffer from another food allergy

Complications of Food Allergies

Complications linked with food allergies include:

  • Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Food allergy may result in causing skin reactions like rashes

  • Anaphylaxis

This is a life-threatening reaction of food allergy that occurs in severe cases.

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Prevention

Once a food allergy is developed it is very important to avoid foods that can cause food allergies. Some of the preventive measures that can be taken to avoid food allergies include:

  • Know your trigger foods and avoid eating and drinking those.
  • If by any chance you have already been a victim of food allergy, then make sure that you wear a medical alert necklace or a bracelet so that the people around you know when you are unable to speak
  • It is important to plan your meals before leaving the house
  • Make sure that the places you visit to eat have proper awareness of the fact that food allergies do exist
  • Explain food allergy symptoms to those who don't know and try to explain why you can't have certain food
  • Make an action plan of what foods your child is allergic to and make copies and distribute them to those who interact with him like the school staff and nurses at daycare
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Diagnosis

To get food allergies diagnosed, the doctor first asks about your body’s reaction to certain foods. They ask this to know:

  • What signs and symptoms occurred
  • How long did they last
  • What foods were responsible
  • If the food was cooked or not
  • Where was the food consumed

The doctor will take a complete family history and will check the presence of other allergies as well. There are some of the tests that medical specialists usually conduct in order to diagnose food allergies properly.

 These can be:

  • Blood Test

A blood test indicates the presence of antibodies that are formed as a reaction to certain foods to detect the presence of food allergy.

  • Skin Prick Test

A healthcare practitioner puts different diluted foods on the exposed skin of the arms of the person by slightly piercing the skin lightly. After that, the reaction is observed.

If there is any itching, swelling or redness felt, the person might be suffering from a food allergy. This test needs to be repeated several times for accurate diagnosis.

  • Blinded Oral Food Challenge

This is one of the most used ways to diagnose food allergies. The doctor gives the person the suspected food that might be causing the allergy and the amount is increased slowly. The symptoms are then monitored under close supervision.

  • A Food Diary

 

It is a diary kept by the doctor to note down all the trigger foods that might cause a person's food allergies.

Treatment of Food Allergies | When to Consult a Doctor

There are certain ways that can be opted in order to treat food allergies. These are mentioned below:

Traditional Way

The traditional way is to avoid certain foods that are the major triggers and can cause food allergies.  This way it is way easier to treat the symptoms of a reaction when it arises.

Medication

There are certain medications that can help immensely with food allergies. These include:

  • Adrenaline (Epinephrine)

The medication can be used by those who get severely affected by consuming some of the foods and are extremely sensitive. Adrenaline can help keep the blood vessels up by narrowing them down the blood vessels. It also results in relaxing the airways.

  • Antihistamines

For people with mild to moderate food allergies antihistamines come in handy. These can be consumed in gels, liquids, or tablet form. Allergy symptoms are mostly caused by histamines and antihistamines do help in eradicating the effects of histamines by blocking them.

Oral Immunotherapy

 

A relatively new way of treating food allergies is known as oral immunotherapy. In this method, the person is given certain food allergens and fed until the threshold triggering a reaction reaches.

Doctors to treat Food Allergies

Last updated on Monday 26/09/2022

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