Approximately twelve million Americans suffer from true food allergies and many others have symptoms that they attribute to food related allergies. When the immune system identifies a food item as a harmful substance antibodies are created to protect the body from this substance entering the body again. Unfortunately, that means the immune system is going to release histamines to protect the body whenever this substance is again introduced to the body. This triggers allergy symptoms that can include the skin along with respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems.
Food intolerance and an allergic reaction to certain foods are not the same thing. A food intolerance, such as lactose intolerance, can cause unwanted symptoms as the body is unable to process the food properly. This doesn't include a reaction of the immune system so it is not an allergy. Food intolerances usually end up causing diarrhea, stomach cramps, gas and abdominal discomfort. These cause asthmatic reactions, swelling and hives as the body reacts to the substance it has decided is has discovered.
Symptoms of a true food allergy include a tingling sensation in the mouth and swelling of the tongue and throat, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. More serious allergic reactions can include lowered blood pressure, breathing difficulties loss of consciousness, and death. Allergic reactions can start within minutes of ingesting the substance that the body as identified a problem to two hours after the food has been eaten.
There are no cures for these allergies. Most allergic reactions are outgrown with the exception of tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish. Some food sensitivities can start up after years of being able to eat that same food item. If you have an allergy to a certain food; to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid that food. This means you will have to read labels if you are eating prepackaged foods to insure you don't end up accidentally eating the reaction causing food.
When a new allergy is acquired it is not always easy to figure out which food is causing the reaction. Keeping track of what you eat at each meal and how your body reacted for a couple weeks will help you to narrow down the food causing the reaction.
Taking away the most common causes of food allergies before other foods is a good way to start. Allergies to wheat and dairy are common so taking one of these out of your diet to see if the symptoms disappear is a good place to start. If the first one didn't make any changes then return it to your diet and try something else.
Removing too many foods from your diet can cause your diet to be unbalanced. When dealing with allergies, nutrition is also important. If you have an allergy to a food item that has been a big part of your diet you don't remove it without replacing the nutrients with another source. Discussing your allergies with your physician and deciding how to adjust your diet so that you aren't causing a deficiency in one area is helpful.
If you do end up accidentally eating a food you are allergic to and have a reaction then an antihistamine is a good first step. If you have a severe allergic reaction from a food allergy you need to seek medical assistance. People who are prone to severe allergic reactions often carry epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine this comes in the form of a shot, to give the boost of adrenaline immediately.
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