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What is Food Allergy?

What is food allergy?

A food allergy is when the body’s immune system reacts unusually to specific foods. Although allergic reactions are often mild, they can be very serious!

Allergic reactions are common. The immune response that causes an allergic reaction is similar to the response that causes hay fever. Most reactions happen soon after contact with an allergen.

Symptoms of Food Allergy:

Most food-related symptoms occur within minutes. Symptoms of a food allergy can affect different areas of the body at the same time. Some common symptoms include:

Allergic reactions can be mild, however some can be life threatening. The most severe form of allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis, symptoms include, breathing difficulties, increased heart rate, collapsing or losing consciousness.

What Causes Food Allergies?

Allergy happens when your body’s natural defenses overreact to exposure to a particular substance, treating it as an invader and sending out chemicals to defend against it.

While allergies tend to run in families, it is impossible to predict whether a child will inherit a parent’s food allergy or whether siblings will have a similar condition. Some research does suggest that the younger siblings of a child with a peanut allergy will also be allergic to peanuts.

While any food can trigger an allergic reaction, eight types of food account for about 90 percent of all reactions:

In a number of countries, certain seeds such as sesame seeds are also common food allergy triggers and considered a major allergen.

Management & Treatment

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for food allergies, however there have been many cases of children who are able to outgrow their food allergies, especially milk and egg allergies.

The primary way to manage a food allergy is to avoid consuming the food that causes you problems. Carefully check ingredient labels of food products, and learn whether what you need to avoid is known by other names.

References:

National Health Service. 2016. Living with Food Allergies. NHS,. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/food-allergy/living-with/ [18 February 2019].

Valenta, R., Hochwallner, H., Linhart, B. & Pahr, S. 2015. Food Allergies : The Basics. Gastroenterology, 148(6), 1120–1131. condition induced by mental tasks. Amino Acids, 43, pp.1331–1337.

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