ARE YOU ALLERGIC OR INTOLERANT TO FOOD?
A. Food allergy is defined as an immune reaction to proteins in the food and can be IgE (Immunoglobulin E)-mediated or non-IgE-mediated. IgE-mediated food allergy is a worldwide health problem that affects millions of persons and numerous aspects of a person's life. Allergic reactions secondary to food ingestion are responsible for a variety of symptoms involving the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and respiratory tract.1
A. Physical reactions to certain foods are common, but most are caused by a food intolerance rather than a food allergy. Food intolerance can cause some of the same signs and symptoms as a food allergy, so people often misinterpret the two. A food allergy affects the immune system. Even small amounts of the offending food allergen can trigger a range of symptoms, which can be severe or life-threatening. In contrast, food intolerance often affects only the digestive system and causes fewer symptoms.1,2
Causes of food intolerance include:
1. Absence of an enzyme needed to fully digest a food.
2. Irritable bowel syndrome. This chronic condition can cause cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.
3. Sensitivity to food additives.
A. More than 170 foods are known to cause food allergies, but eight foods account for 9 out of 10 reactions in the United States. These eight foods, identified as major food allergens are: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.3
The symptoms of a food allergy almost always develop a few seconds or minutes after eating the food. Some individuals may develop a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), which can be fatal and life-threatening. The most common type of allergic reaction to food is IgE-mediated food allergy.
Several common symptoms include tingling or itching in the mouth, a raised, itchy red rash (hives), in some cases the skin can turn red and itchy, but without a raised rash, swelling of the face, mouth (angioedema), throat, or other areas of the body, difficulty in swallowing, wheezing or shortness of breath, feeling dizzy and lightheaded, feeling sick (nausea) or vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea, hay fever-like symptoms, such as sneezing or itchy eyes (allergic conjunctivitis).3,4
Anaphylaxis- The symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, can be sudden and are fatal in nature too. Initial symptoms include a swollen tongue, breathing difficulties, tight chest, trouble while swallowing or speaking, feeling dizzy or fainting, and collapse. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Without quick management, it can be life-threatening.1-4
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A. Non-IgE-mediated food allergy: Another type of allergic reaction is a non-IgE-mediated food allergy. The symptoms of this type of allergy can take much longer to develop, sometimes up to several days. Some symptoms of a non-IgE-mediated food allergy may be what you would expect to see in an allergic reaction, such as redness and itchiness of the skin, although not raised, itchy red rash (hives), the skin turning dry and cracked (atopic eczema). Other symptoms can be much less obvious and are sometimes thought of as being caused by something other than an allergy; that include vomiting with or without diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and constipation. Small children/infants may experience signs and symptoms like excessive and inconsolable crying and don’t pass stools or have constipation.3,4
Mixed reaction: Some children can have a mixed reaction where they experience both IgE symptoms, such as swelling, and non-IgE symptoms, such as constipation. This can happen to children who have a milk allergy.
Exercise-induced food allergy: In some cases, a food allergy can be triggered after eating certain food and then exercising. This can lead to anaphylaxis in severe cases, sometimes known as food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis.
Drinking alcohol or taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen may also trigger an allergy in people with this syndrome.4
A. Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction in some people with food allergies. Although ingestion is the primary cause of severe reactions, in some cases, skin contact or breathing in a food protein (e.g., steam from cooking shellfish) can cause symptoms.1-4 For highly allergic people, even tiny amounts of an allergen (as little as 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel) can trigger a reaction. Less-sensitive people may be able to have small amounts of food that they are allergic to.5
Identification of the allergen is the key to preventing fatal complications. For more information visit https://drdangslab.com/ServiceAllergytesting.aspx
and talk to our panelists and work with them to know which allergen affects you or your child. Dr. Dangs lab provides the ultimate comprehensive panels to resolve all your queries associated with allergies.
A. Food allergy symptoms usually develop within a few minutes to 2 hours after eating the offending food.2 In some cases, after the first symptoms go away, the second wave of symptoms comes back one to four hours later (or sometimes even longer). This second wave/set is called a biphasic reaction. The risk of a biphasic reaction is why patients who have a severe reaction should stay at a hospital for four to six hours for observation.6
A. Anyone who has a food allergy can have a severe allergic reaction to food allergens. However, data depicts that individuals having asthma are at higher risk. Fatal outcomes of anaphylaxis include a disproportionate number of teens and young adults, possibly because they take more risks with their food allergies (eating dangerously and delaying treatment). In most fatal cases of food anaphylaxis, the fatality is not due merely to a simple, linear relationship between the allergen and exposure in a sensitized individual. Compounding factors such as the allergic disease burden, particularly the presence of asthma, comprehension of the potential severity of an event, training in the appropriate use of epinephrine, and emerging metabolic factors should be considered when assessing risk and establishing management strategies.2,7
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion.