What An Allergy Can Tell You About Your Dogs Gut Health
Allergies actually involve the gut microbiome in multiple ways. For one thing, the gut microbiome houses most of the immue system: 70%80% of the bodys immune cells live in the gut. When the guts microbial populations are out of balance, immune functions stop working properly, making allergic reactions more likely.
Studies have found an association between gut microbiome imbalance and atopic disorders in both humans and animals. When the gut microbiome has too many bacteria from groups that are involved in inflammatory response, that imbalance leads to unhealthy levels of inflammation, which can trigger extreme immune responses throughout the body.
Another result of an imbalanced gut microbiome is increased permeability of the gut lining . When the gut lining isnt healthy enough to serve as a strong barrier between the digestive tract and the rest of the body, food molecules can escape from the intestines into the bloodstream. There they can be misidentified and attacked as invaders by the immune system, leading to a hyper-reactive cycle in which the immune system becomes sensitized to those substances and overreacts every time it encounters them.
The good news is that the gut microbiomes involvement in allergies means that we may be able to resolve an allergy by healing the gut. For example, treatments for atopic dermatitis that target the gut include probiotics and fecal microbiota transplant .
How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Food Allergies How Are Food Allergies Diagnosed
To diagnose food allergy, a health care professional first must determine if the patient is having an adverse reaction to specific foods. A history of foods consumed and resulting symptoms is key information for the physician in the early stages of diagnosis. The doctor makes an assessment with the help of a detailed history from the patient, the patient’s dietary diary, or an elimination diet. He or she then confirms the diagnosis by the more objective skin tests, blood tests, or food challenges.
History: The health history usually is the most important diagnostic tool in diagnosing food allergy. The physician interviews the patient to determine if the facts are consistent with a food allergy. The health care professional may ask the following questions:
Food Allergy Signs And Symptoms
Food allergy signs and symptoms can range from mild tosevere and affect each individual differently. The amount of food necessary tocause an allergic reaction also varies widely from person to person. Allergysymptoms can occur within minutes of being exposed to food allergens or up toseveral hours later. Not every person will experience all symptoms of anallergic reaction, but common signs and symptoms include the following.
· Hives or eczema red, swollen, dry or itchyskin rash
· Runny or stuffy nose, sneezing or a dry cough
· Itchy, watery, red eyes
· Itchy or tingling mouth or inner ear
· Burning sensation on lips or in mouth
· Funny taste in the mouth
· Upset stomach, cramps, vomiting or diarrhea
· Squeaky voice or slurred speech
Signs and symptoms of a more severe allergic reactioninclude:
· Trouble breathing or swallowing
· Swollen lips, tongue or throat
· Feeling weak, confused or light-headed
· Loss of consciousness
· Chest pain or weak, uneven heartbeat
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Treatment Of Food Allergies In Children
As in adults, it is very important that your child stays away from foods that cause allergies. If you are breastfeeding your child, it is important that you not eat foods to which your child is allergic.
You may need to give vitamins to your child if he or she is unable to eat certain foods. Discuss this with your child’s healthcare provider.
Your child’s healthcare provider may also prescribe an emergency kit. Be sure to ask your child’s healthcare provider about an emergency kit if you don’t already have one.
Some children under the supervision of their healthcare provider may be given certain foods after a period of 3 to 6 months. This finds out if the child has outgrown the allergy.
Mild And Severe Symptoms
- Nose: itchy or runny nose, sneezing
- Mouth: itchy mouth
- Skin: a few hives, mild itch
- Gut: mild nausea or discomfort
Severe symptoms include:
- Lung: shortness of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough
- Heart: pale, blue, faint, weak pulse, dizzy
- Throat: tight, hoarse, trouble breathing/swallowing
- Mouth: significant swelling of the tongue or lips
- Skin: many hives over body, widespread redness
- Gut: repetitive vomiting or severe diarrhea
- Psychological: feeling something bad is about to happen, anxiety, confusion
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The 5 Most Common Sources Of Hives
An allergic reaction is the single most common cause for an outbreak of hives. It can happen to anyone at any time. Some children with allergies seemingly outgrow them, and adults can develop them almost out of nowhere. Food allergies will cause hives. Other foods that can cause hives include milk, eggs, shellfish and peanuts . An allergy to medications will also result in hives, so your doctor will ask if you have started taking any new drugs or assess whether your hives may be the result of an ongoing medicinal treatment.
Bites and stings by insects like bees, mosquitoes, or wasps can cause hives. This reaction is called papular urticaria and can result from the bites and stings of almost any insect, including fleas and bedbugs. These hives may last longer than other types of hives. Contact with animals, most commonly domestic ones like cats or dogs, can cause an allergic reaction and hives. However, the exposure to the dander, saliva, or urine of many animals can trigger a reaction.
Pollen is another common allergy, and unsurprisingly a reaction to a pollen allergy can manifest as hives. Physical exposure to or touching allergens like latex can cause hives as well. Even allergy shots can cause hives, since these shots expose you to allergens in order to strengthen your immunity.
- Infections & Illnesses
- Exposure to the Elements
Unorthodox Tests Can Be Misleading
Some people use unorthodox methods for diagnosing health problems. Several misleading tests have been promoted for diagnosing food allergies and intolerances, without any credible evidence, and at significant expense as these tests are not rebated.
These tests include cytotoxic food testing, Vega testing, kinesiology, allergy elimination techniques, iridology, pulse testing, Alcat testing, Rinkel’s intradermal skin testing, reflexology, hair analysis and IgG food antibody testing. Not only do these tests lack any scientific rationale, but have been shown to be inaccurate and unreliable in published studies.
Treatment based on inaccurate results is not only misleading, but can result in ineffective and sometimes harmful treatments, and delay the proper management of food allergies and intolerances.
The Rise In Food Allergy Cases
The number of people with food allergies has risen sharply over the past few decades and, although the reason is unclear, other allergic conditions such as atopic dermatitis have also increased.
One theory behind the rise is that a typical child’s diet has changed considerably over the last 30 to 40 years.
Another theory is that children are increasingly growing up in “germ-free” environments. This means their immune systems may not receive sufficient early exposure to the germs needed to develop properly. This is known as the hygiene hypothesis.
Can Food Intolerances Be Prevented
Taking a few simple steps can help you prevent the symptoms associated with a food intolerance.
- Learn which foods in which amounts cause you to have symptoms, and limit your intake to amounts you can handle.
- When you dine out, ask your server about how your meal will be prepared. Some meals may contain foods you cannot tolerate, and that may not be evident from the description on the menu.
- Learn to read food labels and check the ingredients for problem foods. Dont forget to check condiments and seasonings. They may contain MSG or another additive that can lead to symptoms.
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Food Allergy Rash And Anaphylaxis
The most severe type of allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening condition. This is not a complication of a food rash itself, but rather a complication of the overall allergic reaction. Hives and anaphylactic reactions often occur together, but you can have hives without having anaphylaxis.
On top of the food allergy symptoms listed above, anaphylaxis may cause:
- breathing difficulties
- severe swelling in the mouth, face, neck, and throat
- tightness in the throat
- tingling lips, hands, and feet
If your doctor recommends epinephrine shots for severe food allergies, its important to keep them on hand at all times. Even breathing in a food allergen can cause severe issues. Also, the severity of a reaction may vary just because one reaction was mild, doesnt mean the next will also be mild.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Call 911 or your local emergency services and take your epinephrine shot as soon as you experience symptoms. Antihistamines cant treat anaphylaxis because the symptoms are too severe at this stage.
What Causes Allergic Reactions To Food
- Both heredity and environmental factors may play a role in the development of food allergy.
- The allergens in food are those ingredients that are responsible for inciting an allergic reaction.
- They are proteins that usually resist the heat of cooking, the acid in the stomach, and the intestinal digestive enzymes.
- As a result, the allergens survive to cross the gastrointestinal lining, enter the bloodstream causing allergic reactions throughout the body. The mechanism of food allergy involves the immune system and heredity.
- Immune system: An allergic reaction to food involves two components of the immune system.
- One component is a type of protein, an allergy antibody called immunoglobulin E , which circulates through the blood.
- The other is the mast cell, a specialized cell that stores up histamine and is found in all tissues of the body.
- The mast cell is particularly found in areas of the body that are typically involved in allergic reactions, including the nose and throat, lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract.
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What Natural Home Remedies Treat An Allergic Reaction To Food
For localized hives or other mild skin reactions:
- Take cool showers or apply cool compresses.
- Wear light clothing that doesn’t irritate the skin.
- Take it easy. Keep activity level low.
- To relieve the itching, apply calamine lotion or take over-the-counter antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine maleate .
For all other reactions, especially severe reactions, self-treatment is not recommended. Have a companion drive the person to the hospital emergency department, or call 9-1-1. Here’s what to do while waiting for the ambulance:
Oas And Nose Allergies Can Be Linked
- Over 50% of people who are allergic to pollen also have OAS. This means 10% of all people.
- Ragweed pollen allergy can cross-react with all melons. Also, sometimes with bananas and tomatoes.
- Birch pollen allergy can cross-react with raw potatoes, carrots, celery and apples.
- Grass pollen allergy can cross-react with tomato and kiwi.
What About Meals Eaten From A Restaurant Cafeteria Or Other Place Away From Home
Speak directly with the person that made the food . Ask for a list of all ingredients used in the meal. This should include any seeds, sauces or spices . Write your symptoms in the journal and bring the ingredient list and/or food labels with you to your clinic appointment. If a food is homemade, try to bring the recipe too.
What Treatments Are Available For Allergies
Depending on the types of allergens and the severity of the reaction, Dr. Ishaaya will tailor treatment plans to meet your specific needs. A few treatment options may include:
Prescription or over-the-counter allergy medicine
Lifestyle changes to diet and allergen exposure
Allergy shots or immunotherapy
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Signs You Might Have A Food Allergy
A large-scale medicalstudy recently reported that approximately 3.6 percent of Americans areallergic to one or more foods and that number is growing. Food allergies occurwhen people consume a certain food that triggers an abnormal response fromtheir immune system. This abnormal response is caused when the immune systemrecognizes normally safe food proteins as harmful the symptoms that followare called an allergic reaction.
Allergic reactions can range from minor to life-threateningand can cause a wide range of symptoms depending on how severely the immunesystem reacts to foods. Minor allergic reactions can usually be managed withcommon medications, while severe allergic reactions typically mandate emergencymedical intervention.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to tell if theyrehaving an allergic reaction to food. Were taking a look at the foods that mostcommonly cause allergic reactions, the symptoms that typically accompany a foodallergy and what to do if you believe youre having an allergic reaction.
An Adverse Reaction To Exercise And Environment
Although a daily dose of thirty minutes of exercise is highly recommended, it may also be causing an individual to break out in hives. The body produces a chemical that can inhibit cell breakdown as cause rashes, known as acetylcholine, during exercise as a natural bodily response. Sweating is also known to cause a breakout of hives in those who are already prone to the condition. The sweat itself is not causing the hives, but the excess warmth of the skin can irritate the area concerned. Managing the inhabited environment, exercise, and what is consumed is paramount if hives are affecting an individual on a regular basis. There are also many environmental occurrences that can cause hives to break out such as excess heat, powerful winds, bug bites, and some plants are known to cause a breakout. If environmental concerns are worrisome, talk to a health professional about taking an antihistamine to reduce skin irritability.
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Hives Caused By Infection
Heather L. Brannon, MD
Hives are considered to be idiopathic, meaning that an outbreak can happen spontaneously and the cause isn’t always known. If a cause can be found, the most common cause is an infection. This photo is an example of hives caused by a viral infection.
Other possible causes include an allergic reaction, stress, exercise, sun exposure, pressure on the skin, scratching, and chemical exposure.
What Are Common Allergy Triggers
At Dr. Avi Ishaaya Centers, Dr. Ishaaya tests for all the following allergies:
Food: seafood, shellfish, nuts, gluten, meat products, dairy, soy, fruits and vegetables
Outdoor irritants: pollen, weeds, ragweed, grass, flowers
Molds: fusarium, helminthosporium, hormodendrum
Animals and bugs: cats, dogs, birds, horses, rodents, cockroaches, dust mites, bees
Food Allergy Rash Vs Food Intolerance
A food allergy occurs when your immune system adversely reacts to proteins in a certain food youre allergic to. This is not the same thing as a food intolerance.
Food intolerance is primarily a digestive issue that can cause symptoms similar to food allergies, except that its not life-threatening.
Non-itchy rashes from a food intolerance can also develop over time, such as chicken skin on arms. This is unlike a food allergy rash, which tends to occur within minutes or hours of eating the suspected food. Food intolerance can also cause bloating, stomach pain, and mild digestive upset.
Another key difference is that you can sometimes have small amounts of a food without a problem if you have an intolerance. With an allergy, even a small amount of the food can cause issues.
According to the AAAAI, most suspected cases of food allergies are actually intolerances. However, you dont want to take a chance with self-diagnosis. An allergist can help you determine the difference.
What Types Of Information Should You Record In The Journal
- Write down any and all symptoms experienced during the day or night.
- It is helpful to write down if symptoms are absent, mild, moderate or severe.
- Record date and time that your symptoms start and end. For example, noting that 20 minutes after eating homemade pancakes, your child had hives over most of their body and swollen lips.
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How To Get Tested
A food allergy will usually cause some sort of reaction every time the trigger food is eaten. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and you may not always experience the same symptoms during every reaction. Allergic reactions to food can affect the skin, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system. It is impossible to predict how severe the next reaction might be, and all patients with food allergies should be carefully counseled about the risk of anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction that is treated with epinephrine .
While food allergies may develop at any age, most appear in early childhood. If you suspect a food allergy, see an allergist, who will take your family and medical history, decide which tests to perform and use this information to determine if a food allergy exists.
To make a diagnosis, allergists ask detailed questions about your medical history and your symptoms. Be prepared to answer questions about:
- What and how much you ate
- How long it took for symptoms to develop
- What symptoms you experienced and how long they lasted.
After taking your history, your allergist may order skin tests and/or blood tests, which indicate whether food-specific immunoglobulin E antibodies are present in your body:
Your allergist will use the results of these tests in making a diagnosis. A positive result does not necessarily indicate that there is an allergy, though a negative result is useful in ruling one out.