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Do You Have a Food Allergy?
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Besides a doctor, who can diagnose a food allergy?
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Hi, I'm Audrey Laurelton, owner of Equilibrium Nutrition located in Montclair New Jersey. I'm here for About.com to give you a few tips on how to recognize if you have a food allergy.It is easy to confuse a food intolerance with an allergy. A food intolerance produces uncomfortable symptoms without involving the immune system. A common example is lactose intolerance. A food allergy is a reaction to one or more proteins in a food that causes the immune system to respond. Food allergies occur in 3-4% of adults and in 6 - 8% of the pediatric population.Symptoms of a food allergy usually develop within a few minutes to two hours from injesting the offending food. Common symptoms of a food allergy include:Some people can have a severe full body allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can result in a coma or death if left untreated.Eight types of foods are responsible for 90% of all food allergies. They are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soybeans, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts such as walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, and macadamia nuts.
Cross reactivity is when an allergic reaction occurs to a food that is a known allergen to the individual. For example, if someone has a severe allergic reaction to shrimp, they may have the same reaction to crab, lobster, and crayfish.
Oral allergy syndrome is another type of cross reactivity where the body mistakes one protein for another. It usually occurs in individuals who are allergic to one or more pollens such as ragweed or birth pollen. Symptoms are usually immediate and include itching or mild swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. The offending foods are usually fresh fruits and vegetables and some types of nuts. With the exception of nuts, cooking the offending food destroys the protein and will usually negate the oral allergy symptoms.If you suspect you have a food allergy make an appointment with your doctor or an allergist. They can conduct a skin test and/or a blood test in order to diagnoses your food allergy. In some cases an oral food challenge, performed under direct supervision of a physician, may be necessary.
Thanks for watching. For more information, go to: Health.About.com.
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