Although many believe that food allergies and intolerances are similar, they are, in fact, very different health conditions with widely varying reactions. Intolerance to certain food groups is caused by the inability to digest or process the food due to the lack of appropriate enzymes. Food intolerances typically cause mild reactions such as diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramps. In comparison, food allergies can have severe effects.
Let us learn more about food allergies, their causes, symptoms, and treatment.
Table of Contents
What is Food Allergy?
Food allergies refer to the condition where the body’s immune system reacts to some proteins in the food. When an allergic reaction occurs, the immune system responds very quickly, resulting in a life-threatening reaction in the body called anaphylaxis.
A genuine food allergy is rare, with only 2-4% of the population affected. Although many people believe themselves to be suffering from a food allergy, it can often turn out to be a milder form of food intolerance. So, it is of vital importance to get tested if you suspect any issues related to food.
The most common food allergies are nuts, particularly peanuts and all types of shellfish. Also common in younger children are cow’s milk allergies, as well as allergies to certain fruits.
Types of Food Allergies
Two types of food allergies are medically recognized, which include the following:
- IgE mediated allergy, in which antibodies cause acute reactions through the overproduction of histamine and other chemicals.
- Non-IgE mediated allergy, in which white blood cells, called T-cells, cause a slower and less severe reaction.
Symptoms of Food Allergies
In a food allergy, you may experience the following symptoms a few seconds or minutes after eating the food:
- Itching in the mouth
- Swelling of the face, mouth, and throat
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Abdominal pain
- Symptoms like hay fever (sneezing, itchy eyes)
- Itchy red rashes
What are the Causes of Food Allergy?
Some of the common causes of food allergy are:
- The immune system takes harmless proteins as a threat and releases chemicals that cause an allergic reaction.
- The release of histamine causes most of the symptoms like itching.
- Foods such as eggs, soy, milk, peanuts, fish, shellfish, gluten, sesame seeds, etc.
How to Diagnose Food Allergies?
There are three main methods used to diagnose food allergies, all of which are carried out while ensuring the patient’s maximum safety.
- The skin prick test is one of the ways to diagnose a food allergy. During the test, tiny drops of food extracts are placed on the skin, which is pricked using a small lancet. In this way, the allergen comes in contact with the cells of the immune system. If the skin reddens and swells, the allergy is confirmed.
- Alternatively, analyzing the blood for specific IgE antibodies can identify a small number of IgE-mediated allergies.
- Non-IgE allergies can be diagnosed by the elimination of the suspected food groups from the diet.
How to Treat Food Allergies?
Food allergy symptoms can be relieved with certain medications like antihistamines and Adrenaline.
Antihistamines are suitable for mild to moderate types of allergic reactions.
Adrenaline is suitable to treat severe allergic reactions.
The Final Words
If you think you are experiencing a food allergy, it is wise to get it tested. Please visit an expert for a diagnostic test that will help determine the correct treatment for the allergy. Here at Euromed Clinic Center, we offer the latest food allergy and food intolerance testing methods. You will be able to identify the food groups that trigger allergic reactions in your body. Moreover, it will also help the doctor determine the most suitable treatment for your food allergy. So, please book your appointment now by filling in the form below or call us. Our staff members will book your consultation once you fill the form.