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The Health Risks Of Food Allergies

You probably know someone who develops a mild or severe allergic reaction when they’ve eaten something. Many people experience various reactions when they consume specific foods. Read on to find out about the health risks of food allergies and how to manage your symptoms.

What Causes Allergies?

Did you know that your immune system sometimes identifies specific food substances or groups as harmful? When this happens, antibodies (immunoglobulin E) are released to neutralise any allergy-causing foods in your system. The next time you eat the same food, these antibodies will recognise it and release chemicals like histamine that can cause allergy symptoms in your bloodstream.

Generally, food allergies are triggered by specific proteins found in several food groups like dairy, nuts, and seafood. On the other hand, people with hay fever are vulnerable to pollen-food allergy syndrome. This condition can induce an oral allergy to specific fruits, vegetables, and spices.

It’s common to mistake food intolerance and similar reactions with a food allergy. However, the difference is that with food intolerance, you can still eat that specific food, unlike with an allergy, where even the smallest amount can cause a severe reaction. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine your diagnosis.

Conditions Mistaken for Food Allergies

A food allergy requires an accurate medical diagnosis. These are common conditions that can cause similar symptoms:

  • Celiac disease: A complex digestive reaction caused by consuming gluten found in foods such as bread, pasta and other foods that contain barley, wheat, or rye.
  • Food poisoning: Usually, the bacteria found in foods like fish can imitate a severe food allergy.
  • Histamine toxicity: Foods that contain high levels of bacteria can also carry high amounts of histamine that trigger a reaction known as scombroid poisoning.
  • Food additives: Additives like sulphites can trigger chronic breathing conditions such as asthma.

Signs of an Allergic Reaction

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be mild or severe. Initial reactions won’t necessarily determine the severity of future reactions. For example, if you have a mild reaction the first time you eat something, you shouldn’t be convinced that it won’t cause severe symptoms if you try it again.

You should see a doctor if you experience any one or combination of these symptoms:

  • A swollen throat and a constriction of the airways can signal Anaphylaxis.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
  • Tingling or itching in and around your mouth.
  • Hives, itchiness, or a rash.
  • Swollen face, mouth, and other areas of your body.

Common Allergies You Should Know

When you have a food allergy, exposure to even the smallest amount of that type of food can lead to a severe reaction. It can be detrimental to your health and requires immediate medical attention. Knowing these common food allergies can improve your general awareness and health.

  • Fish.
  • Eggs.
  • Cow’s Milk.
  • Wheat.
  • Soy.
  • Nuts.

Management and Treatment of Food Allergies

The first thing is to determine whether you have a food allergy or have specific foods your immune system can’t digest or tolerate. Speaking to your doctor is crucial if you suspect a food allergy. These are some diagnostic tests your doctor may recommend:

  • A review of your diet.
  • A skin pricking test with a specific food substance to monitor a reaction.
  • Eating particular foods in a controlled and medically supervised environment.
  • Blood tests are conducted to test for levels of immunoglobin E antibodies.

If you test positive for any food allergies, your doctor can make a few recommendations and refer you to a dietician who can provide healthier food alternatives. There isn’t a cure or permanent treatment for allergies however, you can rely on effective management and medication to help neutralise the effects of the chemical reactions.

In summary, food allergies are common health conditions with fatal consequences. It’s essential to take any symptom of an allergic reaction seriously. The great news is that Affinity Health offers you various plans tailored to your health needs to ensure you access quality healthcare services when you need it most.

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