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Food allergies are quite common these days. At some point of time, you or some of your dear ones would have come across this issue.
What Are Food Allergies And What Causes Them?
When your body's immune system reacts unsuitably when certain food products are consumed, it could result in an allergy. Most of the time, it is one or more substances in the food that actually makes your body response to its intake in an inappropriate manner.
When a food is treated as harmful by the body's immune system, the body begins to create immunoglobulin E antibodies against it. So, every time you eat this particular food, even in the slightest amount, the body's immune system begins to release this chemical to fight it. Creation of these chemicals is what actually results in the signs and symptoms of an allergy.
According to the data provided by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), there are specifically eight different types of foods that are responsible for causing about 90 percent of the allergies. Food manufacturers are required to mention in plain words if the packaged food products that they sell contain any of the mentioned eight varieties of substances. As per the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004, these eight types of food items are eggs, peanuts, milk, soy, fish, wheat, tree nuts and shellfish.
Are You At A Risk For An Allergy Due To A Particular Food?
The following are some of the factors that can increase the chances of you having a food allergy:
• Going by what the Mayo Clinic has to say, toddlers and infants are the ones who are highly prone to food allergies. If your kid shows allergic signs when they consume milk, eggs, wheat or soy, you can be sure that it might reduce over time. However, allergic reactions towards nuts and shellfish last longer.
• If members of your family have hay fever, eczema or asthma, then the chances of you having a food allergy are high.
• If you possess a food allergy or are already allergic to a few substances, then you are at a higher risk of attracting other food allergies as well.
• Most of the time, it has been seen that eczema, asthma and food allergies coexist. Symptoms of a food allergy can get worse if you already suffer from asthma.
• If you have a history of food allergy, that is if you were allergic to a particular food at a young age, you are highly likely to suffer from it at a later stage of your life as well.
Common Food Allergens
• Milk: Children are more prone to milk allergies than adults. As per FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), the most common food allergy during childhood is milk allergy. Milk allergy is caused due to the presence of two kinds of protein - whey and casein.
• Eggs: Allergy to eggs is most common during childhood. As per data provided by the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, about 2 percent of kids suffer from this allergy. Presence of various proteins in the whites of eggs and its yolks causes allergy. Egg protein is used to create certain vaccines, therefore if you or your child is about to receive a flu shot, then it's advisable to inform your doctor about the allergy beforehand.
• Wheat: Albumin, globulin, gluten and gliadin are classes of wheat proteins that are responsible for allergy. Food such as cakes, bread, pasta, beer, crackers, ice cream, food starch, ketchup, natural flavourings and soy sauce contain wheat proteins. Some people tend to show signs of wheat allergy if they exercise few hours after the consumption of wheat. Baker's asthma is an ailment, wherein a person finds it difficult to breathe after the intake of wheat products.
• Fish: Fish allergies tend to last a person's entire life. Ensure that you read the labels of packaged food to avoid consuming food with traces of fish.
• Peanuts: Mostly common in children, allergy towards peanuts can get very serious. Read labels before purchasing any packaged food, as it might contain peanut proteins. Consult a doctor immediately if your child shows symptoms of an allergy due to the intake of peanut in any form.
• Soy: Common in children, soy is an ingredient in many products, thus making it essential for you to read food labels if you or your child is allergic to it. Food which has labels that read presence of soybeans, edamame, soy and glycine should be avoided.
• Tree nuts: Almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews and pistachios cause allergies in some.
• Shellfish: People are prone to allergic reactions when some or all sorts of shellfishes are consumed. Prime examples being crabs, shrimp, prawns, lobster, mussels, oysters, octopus, etc. This kind of allergy is most common in the adults. This allergy can also cause anaphylaxis symptoms.
With over-the-counter medications and basic home remedies, food allergies can be treated without it becoming life-threatening in most of the cases. However, it is always good to know what or how allergic you are to certain food that might be triggering your frequent allergic reactions.