Food Allergy

Food allergies are the adverse health effects arising from the immune response triggered in the body when certain kinds of food are eaten. It affects children more than adults

When our body immune system reacts unusually to specific food, this triggers the allergic reactions. In other words, food allergies happens, when defense mechanism of body mistakenly treat protein/ carbohydrate any other component found in food  as a threat, as a result many chemical released which causes the symptoms of allergic reaction.

Common Allergy Causing Foods

  • Egg
  • Cow’s milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts, e.g., walnuts and almonds
  • Wheat
  • Crustacean shellfish
  • Soy
  • Sesame and mustard seeds.

 Symptoms of Food Allergies

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Asthma
  • Life-threatening anaphylaxis-
  • Some very common symptoms - an itching sensation inside the mouth, throat, or ear.
  • Urticarial or hives, swelling of face, lips or tongue and roof of mouth.
  • Wheezing, Repetitive cough, trouble in swallowing.

Severe and fatal reactions can occur in people of any age bracket, but the risk is the greatest in adolescents, young adults with asthma and those known to be allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, fruits, milk, wine, vegetables and/ or seafood.

Treatment for Food Allergies

  1. Before eating any food please make sure, to check the ingredient labels of food products.
  2. Allergy to milk, egg, wheat and soy may disappear over a time, but peanuts, fish, shellfish tend to be life time. Be careful of eating out.
  3. If your child is allergic to any food do inform school principal, with action plan, and if child is prescribed with auto injector then make sure that you know how to use it.
  4. Anaphylaxis is a life threatening condition, life saving method is administration of adrenaline without any delay.
  5. Once a definite diagnosis of food allergy is made through a blood test, the offending food must be strictly avoided under medical advice.
  6. Patients must be educated on how to identify and recognize the reactions, some of which may be life threatening.
  7. Allergen-specific immunotherapy is not recommended to treat food allergy, since its safety is uncertain.
  8. Know that there are no medications available to prevent food allergy. Drugs like antihistamines may decrease allergic reactions to foods but do not block serious life threatening reactions called anaphylaxis.
  9. In case of anaphylaxis, the life saving measure is in the administration of adrenaline and it must be done promptly.

 Do Food Allergies Persist For Life?

Most children outgrow their sensitivity to much of the allergenic foods (egg, milk, wheat, soy) within the age of five years, while some have symptoms up to their teens. About 85 per cent of infants with allergy to cow’s milk turn tolerant by the age of three. When it comes to egg allergy, up to 80 per cent of them turn tolerant by five years. Twenty per cent of children with peanut allergy develop tolerance by the school-going age. Some allergies disappeared with the passing age but some do not. Actually it’s a controversy, many researches are looking into.

Source: Adapted from an article by Dr. J. Shyamala