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Food Allergies

Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:

For most people, celebrations are fun events. But for parents of food allergic children, or even for food allergic adults, activities involving food can be filled with worry. This is because coming in contact with a food allergen has the potential to cause a very serious allergic reaction.

Allergies are the result of a reaction that starts in the immune system. For instance, if you have an allergy to eggs, your immune system identifies a protein found in eggs as an allergen. Your immune system reacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies attach to cells in your skin, lungs and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. If you come in contact with the allergen again, the cells release chemicals including histamine, which cause food allergy symptoms such as itching, hives, swelling, diarrhea, wheezing and a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis). Without immediate treatment—an injection of epinephrine and expert care by a healthcare professional—anaphylaxis can be fatal.

There is a difference between food allergy and food intolerance. A food allergy involves the immune system while food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance, does not. Food intolerance typically involves the GI tract, causing uncomfortable symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, but there is no risk of anaphylaxis.

Common Food Allergens
The most common food allergens are the proteins in cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish and tree nuts. In some food groups, especially tree nuts and seafood, an allergy to one member of a food family may result in the person being allergic to other members of the same group. This is known as cross-reactivity. Cross-reactivity for other food families is not common.

Most food allergens can cause allergic reactions even after they are cooked or have undergone digestion in the intestines, although research is showing that more than half of children with milk and egg allergies can tolerate extensively heated milk and egg in baked foods. Some allergens (usually fruits and vegetables) cause allergic reactions in people with a pollen allergy but only if eaten in raw form. Symptoms in these cases are usually limited to the mouth and throat. 

Diagnosing Food Allergies

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends contacting a board certified Allergist who will, through various testing means, diagnose and assist with the management of food allergies. - Please feel free to contact our office at Allergy Relief Clinics; we would be most interested in assisting you, your family and friends with their food allergy needs. Please call our office at (972) 907-1140 and one of our friendly and qualified staff members would be happy to discuss with you, any of your questions and concerns.

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