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Food Allergy Symptoms

Food allergies are a very common occurrence and are known to affect a large majority of the people in the United States of America. Before getting into the details of common food allergy symptoms, it is important to understand first exactly what a food allergy is. A food allergy is primarily when some type of ingested food causes a reaction within the body that it does not normally cause to most people. Medically speaking, a food allergy can be described as being the abnormal response of the body to a particular food that has been ingested and this triggers an abnormal response in the body’s immune system. Unfortunately, food intolerances are very often confused with food allergies because of the fact that they generally have very similar symptoms.
However, food intolerances are far more prevalent as well as are usually the result of some other underlying medical condition – which is not the case with a food allergy. Food sensitivity is another name for food intolerances and food sensitivity symptoms are also roughly the same.

Because of the fact that there are a number of different types of food intolerances, the various food allergy symptoms in babies and adults are also numerous. Some of the more common symptoms that are usually prominent irrespective of the type of food allergy include the development of a skin rash, eczema or hives. Food allergens are also known to cause asthma in the event that they reach the airways. Anaphylaxis is another very common outcome and is usually started off with some of the milder reactions such as a tingling in the mouth or discomfort in the abdomen.

A food allergy will usually only be diagnosed after the food allergy symptoms have been encountered prominently after ingestion of the allergens. When a child suffers from a very strong reaction to the food consumed, it is suggested that you get the doctor to run some allergic reaction tests on the infant to help substantiate what substances he or she is allergic to. Identifying these substances will go a long way into helping you choose foods that are not going to cause these reactions – thereby allowing the child to lead a higher quality of life. Food allergies in children are considered to be different from those in adults because of the fact that children are known to outgrow their allergies – which isn’t really the case in adults. 

A food allergy is basically defined as an adverse response of the immune system to a particular food protein. Adverse responses to food may also be on account of pharmacological reactions, food intolerance and toxin-mediated reactions. The food protein that triggers an allergic response in an individual is known as a food allergen. Food allergens are typically a kind of protein that withstands the digestive enzymes, cooking and even the acid present in the stomach. Most food allergies tend to affect the stomach, skin, digestive tract or the respiratory system. A more serious allergy attack may occur without showing any skin symptoms and instead may cause a sudden fall in the blood pressure of the individual thereby affecting the cardiovascular system. Symptoms associated with a food allergy may surface immediately within minutes or may even take several hours. Common symptoms that are observed on the skin of an individual suffering from a food allergy are redness or flushing of the skin, swelling or edema, hives or atopic dermatitis which is a skin condition resulting in a scaly , itchy rash. Food allergy symptoms of the digestive tract are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and even abdominal or stomach pain. Similarly common respiratory symptoms arising from an allergic reaction are coughing, sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes etc.

One of the most severe reactions to a food allergy which could even be fatal is Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock which involves closing of the throat resulting in difficulty in breathing. Due to the reduction in the intake of oxygen, the blood pressure of the individual drops at a very fast rate. Anaphylaxis is known to affect several parts of the body at once or it might only affect the cardiovascular or respiratory system. Anaphylactic reactions on account of a food allergy usually start off with mild symptoms such as a light tingling in the throat or mouth or even pain in the abdomen and can quickly become fatal if not given due medical attention immediately. As the digestion process takes place the food allergens travel through the blood vessels to the airways thereby causing asthma in some individuals and may also result in weakness or lightheadedness. The most common food allergens known to affect adults are milk, peanuts, eggs, shellfish such as lobster, shrimps etc, sesame, nuts etc. Some people have a family history of allergies and hence are more susceptible to food allergies whereas other individual have weak immune systems due to which they are sensitive to certain foods.

Submitted on January 16, 2014