Food Allergy

Patients with a food allergy experience the immune system’s overreaction to a food substance. The body mistakenly believes that a particular food is dangerous and sends out chemicals in defense, potentially causing a number of symptoms from mild to life-threatening. Even if symptoms are typically mild, more severe symptoms are possible upon future exposure to the allergen. Food allergies should not be misperceived as food sensitivities such as lactose intolerance and gluten sensitivity. Food sensitivities are most often less serious than food allergies and do not involve the immune system. Greater Austin Allergy can help you determine whether you face a true food allergy or a sensitivity.

Symptoms

Food allergy symptoms typically appear a few minutes to two hours after consuming the allergen. Rarely, they manifest four to six hours (or more) later. They range from mild discomfort to life-threatening.

Food allergies can affect several of the body’s systems. The most prevalent symptoms include:

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that requires immediate emergency medical attention. Symptoms can come on suddenly and rapidly progress. Initial symptoms may seem mild at first but ramp up in the blink of an eye. Some symptoms of anaphylaxis are:

  • Shock with a dramatic drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Hives
  • Stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Dizziness or loss of consciousness
  • Cardiac arrest

Even if a person recognizes symptoms of anaphylaxis and successfully administers an epinephrine injection, immediate medical help should still be sought due to the potential for a second reaction.

Causes

Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but the vast majority of reactions occur due to the top eight food allergens:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (among them, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, and walnuts)
  • Eggs
  • Soy (mostly kids)
  • Wheat and other grains
  • Fish (mostly adults)
  • Shellfish (mostly adults)
  • Cow’s milk (mostly kids)

Diagnosis & Treatment Options

No test exists that can immediately and definitively diagnose or rule out a food allergy. The allergy specialists of Greater Austin Allergy have extensive experience working a process to diagnose food allergies.

We will discuss your detailed symptom history, as well as any family history of allergies. Skin prick tests and blood tests may provide valuable information about what food substance(s) could cause an allergic reaction. Your doctor might recommend an elimination diet. This entails removing potential allergens from your diet and then adding them back in to see if symptoms reappear (this is not advised for those with severe symptoms). A physician-supervised oral food challenge, in which you ingest increasing amounts of a potential allergen in the hopes of ruling out a reaction, can give great insight into what foods you can add back into your diet.

Avoiding the food that causes symptoms is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction, but this is not foolproof. Every food allergy patient receives a written plan that outlines what to do in case of emergency.

Do not let food allergies bring you down. We are here to help. Schedule an appointment today!

Food Allergy Facts

  • People can suddenly develop an allergy to foods they have eaten for years with no problem.

    Source: acaai.org
  • Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18. That’s 1 in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom.

    Source: www.foodallergy.org
  • Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.

    Source: www.foodallergy.org
  • Between 1997 and 2008, the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy appears to have more than tripled in US children.

    Source: www.foodallergy.org