Food Allergies

Food Allergies

She could feel her tongue swelling, had a choking feeling deep in her throat and she felt short of breath. She rushed into the restroom and splashed her face with cool water but no help. She gulped down a glass of water-nothing. She had no idea what was happening to her. This is not a plot for an upcoming horror movie, it is just a description of someone who may be facing symptoms of severe food allergies.

The scenario described above is what most people think about when food allergies are mentioned. What a lot of people don’t know is that nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, upset stomach, diarrhea, and a host of other symptoms can be caused be food allergies as well. These conditions are known as Eosinophilic disorders. A few examples are Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis, and Eosinophilic Colitis. Food allergies are a rare condition and in most cases widely misunderstood. They are usually confused with food intolerance which is common and less severe although bothersome. Food allergies occur when your body’s immune system recognizes a certain food item as harmful and produces antibodies against it. This misunderstanding leads to a struggle within your system against the allergen which in turn causes symptoms. These may include skin rashes, tongue swelling, breathlessness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Some of the more severe symptoms include choking, irregular heart beats, and malnutrition. Some individuals have severe reactions to certain foods and could die if not treated immediately.

The direct competitor of food allergies is food intolerance. Food intolerance is when some portion of a food substance is not fully digested i.e. your body lacks the relevant digestive enzymes. For example, lactose intolerance is when a person lacks an enzyme to digest dairy products. Typical symptoms of food intolerance are upset stomach and tummy cramps. Sometimes the symptoms in food intolerance and food allergies are the same so it can be difficult to determine the cause without testing.

Those who experience food allergies of any sort would definitely agree that even a tiny amount of the allergen can unleash the allergy monster. Prevention is the best cure as far as food allergies are concerned. Most common sources of food allergies are milk and dairy, peanuts, fish, eggs and wheat. Once you are aware of your allergy, you must be very careful while grocery shopping. Carefully read the ingredients to avoid consuming something which has your allergen present in it.

The question is how you can determine if you have a food allergy or not. The answer is simple to state but difficult to act upon. Typically your doctor will ask you to maintain a food diary and enter in it everything that you eat during the day and log any changes or symptoms you experience. From this they would be able to gather a lot of useful information in determining your food allergy. Another method of diagnosis is the elimination diet. In this method, suspected allergen containing food items are first eliminated from the diet altogether for a certain time period and then they are gradually and incrementally added back and the symptoms tracked.

Now let us talk about what happens if you do devour that heaven sent chocolate cake knowing fully well that it contains the forbidden egg (assuming here that you have egg allergy). If the symptoms get too severe like skin rashes all over or swelling on your face etc., it is more than recommended that you immediately seek medical attention.

Since food allergies are thought to be genetic, there really isn’t a so called “cure”. By consulting with an allergy specialist and managing your diet there can be a significant reduction or even complete elimination of your food allergy symptoms.

In children, it has been observed that food allergies may vanish at a certain age. Most children under the age of four experience food allergies and the symptoms are similar to those experienced by the adults. Sometimes mothers permanently put a cross over a food item that causes allergic reaction to their children once. The truth is that many children outgrow these food allergies as they get older. Consulting a doctor or allergy specialist for this matter seems to be the right thing to do.

Food allergies, when understood properly cease to be an unstoppable monster and become something which you can control and live with. See an allergist, get tested, eat healthy, know your body and its reactions and enjoy life to the fullest. To ask questions and communicate with others about food allergies please become a member of the free Eosinophilic Esophagitis Forum.

For more detailed information check out the list of topics about eosinophilic esophagitis.

You can also ask questions and communicate with others about the disorder by becoming a member of the free Eosinophilic Esophagitis Forum.