Cross Reactivity And Oral Allergy Syndrome
When you have a life-threatening allergic reaction to a certain food, your doctor will probably recommend that you avoid similar foods, too. For example, if you react to shrimp, you’re probably allergic to other shellfish like crab, lobster, and crayfish. This is called cross-reactivity.
Another example of cross-reactivity is oral allergy syndrome. It happens in people who are highly sensitive to ragweed. During ragweed season, when they try to eat melons, especially cantaloupe, their mouths may itch. Similarly, people who have severe birch pollen allergy may also react to apple peels.
Food Allergies In Infants And Children
Milk and soy allergies are particularly common in infants and young children, probably because their immune and digestive systems are still developing. These allergies can appear within days to months of birth. They may not show up as hives and asthma, but rather lead to colic and perhaps blood in poop or poor growth.
Typically, the doctor sees a very unhappy colicky child who may not sleep well at night and diagnoses a food allergy partly by changing their diet, like switching from cow’s milk to soy formula. This type of allergy tends to disappear within a few years.
Doctors recommend only breastfeeding infants for the first 4-6 months, if possible, for many reasons, but there’s no proof that it prevents food allergies later in life. While some pregnant women may hope limiting their diets while they’re pregnant or breastfeeding may help their children avoid allergies, the experts disagree and don’t suggest it. Soy formula isn’t a good way to prevent allergies either.
Not All Reactions To Food Are Allergies
Not everyone who has a reaction to eating certain foods has a food allergy or needs to avoid that food entirely. For instance, some people may think they have food allergies because they get an itchy mouth and throat after eating raw or uncooked fruits or vegetables, but this may actually indicate oral allergy syndrome, which is a reaction to pollen, not to the food itself.
There’s also a difference between food allergies and food intolerances. Intolerances to foods can cause symptoms like bloating and stomach cramps, which usually occur several hours after eating. In addition, people with intolerances can usually tolerate small amounts of the troublesome foods. That’s a pretty significant difference from allergic reactions to foods, which usually occur quickly and can be life-threatening, even from only tiny amounts of the food.
Celiac disease is often confused with wheat allergy and gluten intolerance, but it is actually an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own cells. For those with celiac disease, eating gluten causes the body to literally damage and destroy the lining of the small intestine. The results might not be as immediate as anaphylaxis, but they can be just as scary.
If you think you might have a food allergy, your best bet is to see a doctor and get testedbefore you might have a serious reaction.
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When Should You Call A Doctor For An Allergic Reaction To Food
If a person experiences symptoms of food allergy, call a health care professional right away for advice.
- He or she may recommend that you go to a hospital emergency department.
- If the person is unable to reach a health care professional and is concerned about their symptoms, they should go to the emergency department.
- Severe reactions, including symptoms such as difficulty breathing, dizziness or lightheadedness, or tightness or choking in the throat, require treatment in an emergency department.
- Even mild symptoms that are not improving or are getting worse require evaluation in an emergency department.
The person should not attempt to drive to the hospital. If no one is available to drive the person immediately, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical transport. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, start self-treatment.
Tests For Food Allergies
If your doctor thinks a specific food allergy is likely, you may get tests to measure your allergic response.
One of these is a scratch puncture test. The doctor or technician puts a drop of a solution made with the food on your forearm or back. Then they’ll prick your skin with a needle through the drop and watch for swelling or redness.
Skin tests are quick, simple, and relatively safe. But experts don’t recommend making a diagnosis based on a skin test alone. Your skin test may show an allergy to a food without you having allergic reactions when eating that food. So your doctor will diagnose a food allergy only when you have a positive skin test and a history of reactions to the same food.
If you’re extremely allergic and have severe reactions, skin testing could be dangerous. It also can’t be done if you have severe eczema. Instead, your doctor can use blood tests such as RAST and ELISA that measure the amount of food-specific IgE. These tests may cost more, and results take longer. Again, a positive result doesn’t necessarily mean you have a food allergy.
A food challenge, or feeding test, is another way to confirm or rule out an allergy. It’s done with your doctor there. You eat small servings of food every 15-30 minutes that have increasing amounts of the suspected allergen in them until you either have a reaction or eat a meal-sized portion.
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How Can I Manage My Food Allergy
You can find a whole host of useful tips on management and avoidance on our relevant Factsheets below but there are 3 key things to be on top of when it comes to managing a food allergy:
Why Are Food Allergies Increasing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported a 50 percent increase in the number of children with food allergies since the late 1990s. Many theories have been suggested as to why the number of people with food allergies is growing, but scientific research has not yet found the cause.
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Types Of Food Allergies
Food allergies are divided into 3 types, depending on symptoms and when they occur.
- IgE-mediated food allergy the most common type, triggered by the immune system producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E . Symptoms occur a few seconds or minutes after eating. There’s a greater risk of anaphylaxis with this type of allergy.
- non-IgE-mediated food allergy these allergic reactions aren’t caused by immunoglobulin E, but by other cells in the immune system. This type of allergy is often difficult to diagnose as symptoms take much longer to develop .
- mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediated food allergies some people may experience symptoms from both types.
Read more information about the symptoms of a food allergy.
What Tests Diagnose Food Allergies
Generally a food allergy is identified by signs and symptoms. Medical professionals are trained to recognize hives, swelling patterns, rashes, and other symptoms associated with allergic reactions.
The person will be asked questions about their medical history and possible triggers of the reaction.
Blood tests and other tests are needed only under very unusual circumstances, such as anaphylaxis.
Some people can pinpoint which food caused the allergic reaction, especially if the reaction occurs within minutes of consuming a particular food. Many others will need to see an allergist for special testing to determine the exact food that is responsible.
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How To Prevent Food Allergies
While a lot of this discussion has been about food allergies in children, guess what: Adults can develop food allergies at any time in their lives! By some estimates, more than 50 percent of American adults with food allergies got them when they were older than 18.
So whether youre a pregnant soon-to-be mother, a parent of young children, or a grown adult, these recommendations on how to prevent food allergies pertain to you
What To Do If Symptoms Of An Allergic Reaction Occur
Symptoms of food allergies typically appear from within a few minutes to a few hours after a person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic. A severe, life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.
Symptoms of allergic reactions can include:
- Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth
- Face, tongue, or lip swelling
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Swelling of the throat and vocal cords
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
People with a known food allergy who begin experiencing any of these symptoms should stop eating the food immediately, evaluate the need to use emergency medication and seek medical attention. Some of these symptoms are not always due to a food allergen. So, it is important to seek proper care and diagnosis from a healthcare provider to determine if the symptoms or reaction experienced was due to a food allergen.
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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.
Ways To Prevent Food Allergies
According to experts, theres really no such cure for allergies but in order to prevent the symptoms and lessen the effects it will be necessary to rule out the cause of the allergy. It will be best to consult your veterinarian to get some recommendations if a series of tests are needed as it may also be associated with other underlying diseases.
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Can Food Allergies Cause Diarrhea In Dogs
Diarrhea in dogs is when the stool moves faster through their intestine with less amount of water, nutrients and electrolytes absorption. This happens in the presence of mild intestinal distress such as eating an item that doesn’t agree with their body or sudden/recent change of diet.
Dogs mouths and jaws are made for tearing, crushing, and wolfing food down. Their salivary enzymes are mostly designed to kill bacteria, which is why they can tolerate items that would send their human companions to the hospital.
Food travels rapidly down the canine esophagus and enters the stomach in chunks, where most digestion takes place. Canine stomach acids are about three times stronger than those of humans, so they can digest food that is pretty much intact. Under normal circumstances, transit time from mouth through the small and large intestines should be under 10 hours, producing a firm, well-formed stool at the end.
If the main sign of illness in your dog is diarrhea, a relatively simple problem such as an intestinal infection from bacteria, viruses, coccidia, or intestinal worms may be the cause.
How Common Are Food Allergies And Intolerances
Food allergies affect about 1 percent of adults and 7 percent of children, although some children outgrow their allergies. Food intolerances are much more common. In fact, nearly everyone at one time has had an unpleasant reaction to something they ate. Some people have specific food intolerances. Lactose intolerance, the most common specific food intolerance, affects about 10 percent of Americans.
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Reporting Adverse Reactions And Labeling Concerns
If you think that you or a family member has had an allergic reaction or injury that might be associated with a problem of having eaten a particular food product, discuss this with your healthcare provider. If a product has unclear labeling or you believe contains an allergen that isnt labeled, the FDA would like to know. Keep any food packages because they may contain important information. You may want to contact the manufacturer about the problem. Also, report the problem to the FDA in either of these ways:
Consumers and manufacturers can submit reports detailing product reactions or labeling concerns to an FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for the state where the food was purchased. You can also call FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD.
Consumers can submit a report using FDAs MedWatch Online reporting form for consumers.
Reports submitted to the FDA should include as much information as possible:
- Who is reporting the incident and who was affected? Please provide names, addresses, and phone numbers.
- The name and address of the place where the product was purchased
- A clear description of the reaction, including:
- Date the reaction occurred.
- How long after you ate or drank the product that the reaction occurred.
- Medications used to treat symptoms.
- Whether the reaction required further medical care, and if so, what kind. Please provide contact information for the doctor or hospital.
Allergy Can Be Inherited
Children who have one family member with allergic diseases have a 20 to 40 per cent higher risk of developing allergy. If there are two or more family members with allergic diseases, the risk increases to 50 to 80 per cent.
Most of the time, children with food allergy do not have parents with food allergy. However, if a family has one child with food allergy, their brothers and sisters are at a slightly higher risk of having food allergy themselves, although that risk is still relatively low.
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What Is The Medical Treatment For Allergic Reactions To Food
After getting advice from the health care professional, some mild allergic reactions may be treated at home. Any worsening of symptoms requires medical attention.
- In a severe reaction, the first priority is to protect the airway and blood pressure.
- The health care professional will make sure that the airway is open and that the person is getting enough oxygen.
- Oxygen may be given through a tube into the nose or by face mask.
- In severe respiratory distress, mechanical ventilation may be required. A tube is placed in the mouth to keep the airway open.
- In rare cases, a simple surgery is performed to open an airway.
- Blood pressure will be checked frequently.
- An IV line may be started.
- This is used to give saline solution to help boost blood pressure.
- It also may be used to give medication.
The person may need to be admitted to the hospital for further monitoring and treatment.
How Do I Find Out If I Have Allergies
If you sneeze and itch a lot, wheeze, or often get sick after eating a certain food, your doctor may want to check you for allergies. He or she will ask you a lot of questions about your health, about the animals and plants in your home, and about the foods you eat. Your answers will provide clues about what you might be allergic to, and your doctor may ask you to stay away from a pet or stop eating a certain food to see if your symptoms go away.
Your doctor may send you to an allergist , a special doctor who helps people who have allergies. An allergist may give you a scratch test to see if a tiny bit of an allergen will cause a reaction on your skin. You’ll feel a quick pinch when the doctor makes the scratch or scratches. If you’re allergic, one or more spots will become bumpy, itchy, and red like a mosquito bite.
Some doctors also might test a kid’s blood to look for IgE, a substance called an antibody that signals an allergic reaction. If you have large amounts of this antibody in your blood, you are probably allergic to the allergen.
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When Allergies Typically Develop
Most people remember first getting allergy symptoms at a young age about 1 in 5 kids have some kind of allergy or asthma.
Many people outgrow their allergies by their 20s and 30s, as they become tolerant to their allergens, especially food allergens such as milk, eggs, and grains.
But its possible to develop an allergy at any point in your life. You may even become allergic to something that you had no allergy to before.
It isnt clear why some allergies develop in adulthood, especially by ones 20s or 30s.
Lets get into how and why you can develop an allergy later in life, how you can treat a new allergy, and whether you can expect a new allergy or an existing one to go away with time.
What Happens In A Food Allergy Reaction
Most reactions happen pretty soon after eating a particular food. Everyone’s different, though. So although two people may have peanut allergy, for example, both may not have the same type of allergic reaction. And even the same person can have different reactions to a particular food, depending on factors like how much he or she was exposed to.
- be very mild and only involve one part of the body, like hives on the skin
- be more severe and involve more than one part of the body
- happen within a few minutes or up to 2 hours after contact with the food
Food allergy reactions can affect any of these four areas of the body:
Sometimes, an allergy can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis, even if a previous reaction was mild. Anaphylaxis might start with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but can quickly get worse. The person may have trouble breathing or pass out. More than one part of the body might be involved. If it isn’t treated, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.
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