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A Food Allergy Is
A food allergy is an abnormal immune response to food. The symptoms of the allergic reaction may range from mild to severe. They may include itchiness, swelling of the tongue, vomiting, diarrhea, hives, trouble breathing, or low blood pressure. This typically occurs within minutes to several hours of exposure .
Food allergy is caused by an abnormal response of the immune system to certain foods. The most common foods which may cause allergies include milk and milk based products such as cheese, cream, butter; eggs; peanuts; tree nuts such as walnuts and pecans; soya; seafood; shellfish; wheat.
There are no treatments that can prevent food allergies. You can prevent the allergic reaction by avoiding the allergenic foods. Treatment depends on the severity and mainly involves management of the symptoms. Epinephrine (Alpha-and beta-adrenergic agonists) is used in case there are signs of anaphylactic shock. Antihistamines are used for mild reactions to manage symptoms such as hives and itching. Bronchodilators are used in case there is shortness of breath and to reduce inflammation of the airways.
For the diagnosis, a comprehensive clinical history is taken by the doctor on the type of food taken before the reaction and history of a similar reaction. Physical examination is done to rule out an anaphylactic reaction or to manage it promptly. Blood test is done to look for antibodies towards the food consumed. The antibodies are usually IgE. Skin prick test can also be done to look for antibodies by injecting the patient with a small amount of the possible allergen. Oral food challenge can be done where the patient is given increasing amounts of the allergen over time. This should be done under medical supervision.
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