Why Do More People Seem To Have Food Allergies
A food allergy is our body’s abnormal immune response to certain foods that it believes are harmful. Since eating is something that we do, not only to survive, but also as a way to celebrate and enjoy life a food allergy can be a devastating or frustrating event. For people with a food allergy or allergies cooking and planning can be difficult.
Allergies affect people of all ages, sexes, and ethnicities. They can begin at any age but the fact is children suffer from food allergies more than adults do. Approximately 2% of adults have allergic reactions to food but nearly 4% of children under the age of 18 have food allergies of some type.
Food Allergy Trends
It seems that more people have food allergies than ever before. There may, in fact, be some truth to that observation. There are some theories that antibiotic use has led to an under used immune system which triggers it to over react when foreign substances are introduced to it. Nothing has been proven, however, and it is likely that we are just better at diagnosing allergic reactions.
One trend that is exhibiting a high degree of truth is that the allergic reactions that people are experiencing are becoming more severe. There is a higher incidence of respiratory and asthma symptoms as well as anaphylaxis reactions to food. Since both of these symptoms can be deadly it is important to manage your food allergy with vigilance.
Food Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can come on suddenly and can be severe. Reactions vary from mild such as water eyes, a rash or hives to severe reactions such as anaphylactic shock and even death. Allergic reactions can affect the skin, the gastrointestinal tract , the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system. Common symptoms are as follows:
- wheezing, tingling in the mouth or around the lips
- difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness
- obstructed airway due to tissue swelling
Common Food Allergy Foods
The protein content in foods is what is causing most food allergies. There are 8 foods that account for 90% of all food allergies.
*Note: Tree nuts include: almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts and coconut.
*Note:In adults, the most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
Food Intolerance VS Food Allergy
It is important to note that some people have sensitivities or intolerances to certain foods. A food intolerance is not the same as having an allergy because it does not involve the immune system. An example of this would be lactose intolerance. A food intolerance may cause headaches, stomach upset, or skin flares as with eczema. However, intolerances are far less severe and not as life threatening as an allergy.
Avoiding Food Allergy Reactions
The only way to prevent a food allergy is to avoid the food your body’s immune system responds to. Since we live in an era of highly processed foods it is important to read labels to make sure a food item does not contain a food product that you are allergic to. Here are some tips to help you avoid dangerous food allergy symptoms:
- Get a painless skin prick (scratch) test at your doctor’s to determine both the type and severity of your allergies.
- Get a prescription for an Epi Pen if you have sever anaphylactic reactions.
- Read product labels carefully.
- Check the product label of an item every time you buy it just in case the contents have changed.
- Avoid processed foods.
- Ask your waiter at restaurants about ingredients in foods.
- Eat fresh.
Do you have food allergies? We would love to hear your story. Share your food allergy facts with us in the comments section below!