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Food Allergy
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Food allergy

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GENERAL INFORMATION

Allergies

If you encounter an unpleasant reaction after eating certain foods - hives, itching, swelling or trouble breathing - you may have a food allergy. Then again, you might not.

Less than 2 percent of adults and 8 percent of children actually have a true food allergy. This is little consolation if you've had a bad experience and fear a recurrence. That's why it's important to distinguish a food allergy from more common problems such as food intolerance, indigestion or other conditions.

Risk factors

Several factors may put you at greater risk of developing a food allergy:

  • Genetic disposition. You're at increased risk of food allergies if other allergies such as hay fever, asthma, hives or eczema are common in your family.

  • Age. Food allergies are most common in children, especially toddlers and infants. As you grow older, your digestive system matures and your body is less likely to absorb food or food components that trigger allergies. Fortunately, children typically outgrow allergies to milk, soy, wheat and eggs. Severe allergies and allergies to nuts and shellfish are more likely to be lifelong.

  • Asthma. If you have asthma, you may be sensitive to preservatives containing sulfites. Sulfites are present in wines, fresh and dehydrated fruits, seafood's, maraschino cherries, and some soft drinks.

When to seek medical advice

See your doctor or allergist if you experience food allergy symptoms shortly after eating. If possible, see your doctor when the allergic reaction is occurring. This will aid in making a diagnosis.

You need emergency treatment immediately if you develop any symptoms of anaphylactic shock.

Screening and diagnosis

The following may help your doctor determine whether you have an actual food allergy:

  • A history of your symptoms — which foods, and how much, seem to cause problems — and whether you have a family history of food allergies.

  • A food diary of your eating habits, symptoms and medication use.

  • A physical examination to further identify or exclude other medical problems.

  • Skin prick tests using food extracts to determine your reaction, or a blood test that measures IgE antibody. However, these tests aren't 100-percent accurate.

  • Eliminating suspect foods. For a week or two, you may be asked to eliminate suspect foods and add the items back into your diet one at a time. This process can help link symptoms to specific foods. However, this is not a foolproof method. Psychological factors as well as physical factors can come into play. For example, if you think you're sensitive to a food, a response could be triggered that may not be a true allergic one. If you've had a severe reaction to foods, this method cannot be used.

Treatment

For a severe reaction to a food allergy, you may need an emergency injection of adrenaline (epinephrine) and a trip to the emergency room.

If a reaction to certain foods is an annoyance, but not life-threatening, your doctor may prescribe antihistamines to block the symptom-producing release of histamine by your immune system. Creams may relieve skin reactions.

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Disclaimer

This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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