I finally had my daughter tested for food allergies at a clinic in St. Jovite. Since she was little, she would have a bit of a rash, eczema, and itching reaction after eating certain nuts. It was never a severe reaction, but I wanted to know exactly which nuts she was allergic to and how severe the allergy was. In her case, it turns out that she is allergic to hazelnuts but not to walnuts.
The number of people who are severely food allergic is growing. Science doesn’t know why, although I could make a few guesses – food grown with excessive amounts of pesticides and chemicals, chemical additives in foods, certain foods being used in a wide array of packaged foods causing over-exposure to these foods (corn/soy), genetically modified foods, overall increase in pollution taxing the body’s immune system, etc.
While 15% of the general population believes they have a food allergy, the actual number is closer to 5%. Allergies are a product of our immune systems, with multiple biochemical pathways triggered in response to a specific antigen. Allergy can describe mild skin reactions and respiratory distress, right through to life-threatening reactions. The majority of food-related allergic reactions are not life-threatening.
Many people who think they have food allergies actually have food intolerances that may cause serious health issues themselves.
Symptoms of a true food allergy usually involve the skin and intestines and typically begin just after eating and not longer than 2 hours following ingestion of the particular food. Common symptoms include: hives, swelling, itching, or eczema; nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps, indigestion, or diarrhea; swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, tongue, throat, or other parts of the body; a metallic taste in the mouth; wheezing, nasal congestion, or trouble breathing; lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.
Anaphylaxis is the term that describes the most rapid and severe immune response, which can occur in response to a drug (the most common cause), an insect, or food. Food allergy anaphylaxis is rare, with 8 foods causing over 90% of anaphylactic reactions: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Severe reactions are more common in children and children and young adults are at greater risk of a fatal reaction. Food allergies in children can resolve over time, like milk and egg. Tree nut and peanut allergies, however, are more likely to be life-long conditions.
Although Benadryl can be useful for mild reactions from food allergies, there is no replacement for an Epipen in the treatment of a severe anaphylactic allergic reaction. Anyone diagnosed with a food allergy should have an Epipen available in case of an emergency. An Epipen must be prescribed by a doctor.
Spring is in the air, and with that wonderful warmth comes pollen which can be the cause of another type of allergy.
For those who didn’t know, acupuncture is great at significantly reducing the symptoms to seasonal allergies. It’s best to have a few treatments a month before the symptoms usually begin, but it also works during the allergy season as well. Give it a try!