April 19, 2022
Don’t Let The Fear Of Food Allergies Keep You In At Night
Food allergies are among the most frustrating and complicated of all allergies due to the seemingly infinite options of food available to us. This can definitely dampen fun nights out with friends, and family dinners! But with proper food allergy testing, you can eat stress free. Food allergy testing is important because not only can specific food items trigger allergies, but also from foods, utensils, and surfaces that have been in physical contact with the allergy-inducing food. For example, peanut allergies are extremely common, and say peanuts were placed in a bowl which you later used to eat chips. If the bowl was not washed or cleaned in between uses, you are then at risk for triggering your allergy. This is not only stressful, but scary. For these reasons, it is strongly advised to be tested for food allergies as soon as possible to learn which foods are safe and learn methods to avoid cross contamination with other foods. The sooner you get tested, the sooner you can go back to enjoying and relaxing eating worry free meals!
Winner, Winner, Allergen-free Dinner – Why people develop food allergies.
When it comes to why people develop a food allergy, there are a few reasons. Family history plays a role in the development of food allergies, as well as age, other allergies, and other medical issues such as asthma. Internally, when you have a food allergy, your immune system will falsely identify a food or substance in the food as something dangerous, triggering an allergic reaction. Next, your immune system will trigger cells to release an antibody referred to as immunoglobulin E to neutralize the food allergen.
Growing Up Is Hard To Do – Adult-onset food allergies are real.
For the most part, food allergies develop early on in infancy and childhood, but luckily, many people will grow out of their allergies as they get older. However, it is important to know that an allergic reaction to food can suddenly appear with adult-onset food allergies. While all foods can cause allergies, the most common adult food allergy is shellfish. Other common food allergens include tree nuts, soy, milk, and eggs. Although allergies can appear later in life, they do not actually worsen over time. Each allergic reaction is different every time. Your first reaction may be mild, where the next reaction may severe, then the following only mild again. It is for this reason that every reaction should be taken seriously, and testing should be done as soon as possible to determine the source.
Allergies And Intolerances, Oh My – The difference between an allergy and an intolerance.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between a true allergy and simply having food intolerances. Common intolerances are lactose and gluten. For milk intolerance, the cause is not your immune system mistaking milk as an allergen, but rather due to not having enough of an enzyme known as lactase which is essential in breaking down lactose. As for gluten, there is a difference between having a gluten intolerance and having celiac disease. Unfortunately, having a gluten intolerance does not have a blood test to diagnose the sensitivity, but performing a food elimination diet is a great way to start figuring out which foods trigger symptoms and which do not.
Now that we understand why food allergies develop, it is important to recognize the symptoms. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can even be life threatening. They include tingling or itching in the mouth; hives, itching or eczema; swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat; wheezing, nasal congestion, or shortness of breath; abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting; dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting. The most severe and life-threatening reaction is called anaphylaxis. The signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock are constriction or tightening of airways; swollen throat or sensation of a lump in your throat making it difficult to breathe; shock with a severe drop in blood pressure; pulse; dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness.
You Can’t Fail A Food Allergy Test – Different ways to get tested at an allergist near you.
As scary and difficult food allergies can be, there are many ways to get tested to avoid reactions and continue living your life worry free! As previously mentioned, food elimination diets are a wonderful way to start. You can begin by first eliminating the most common food allergies listed above. Skin prick tests are another option where a nurse will prick the skin which then introduces a small amount of the allergen. If there is a reaction, the skin can become raised, red, and itchy. Next, a blood sample can also be taken to further test for immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to certain foods. If the test results come back clear, doctors can also perform a test called an oral food challenge. This is when a person slowly eats a small amount of a potential food allergen under doctor supervision. During this test, the doctor will monitor for symptoms and reactions.
Overall, undiagnosed food allergies can interfere with your quality of life. However, tests can be easily administered, and your local Austin allergist can work with you to develop a plan on how to manage them to get back to your normal fear-free routine!