Food allergies are becoming increasingly common, affecting as many as over 5 million Britons. While the symptoms and severity of food allergies vary from person to person, there are a few basic steps you can take to manage them. If you know you have a food allergy, the first step is to always read food labels carefully. This includes not only packaged foods, but also restaurant menus. Many restaurants now list all ingredients, including hidden ones, online, so be sure to check before you order. If you are eating at a friend's house or at a party, always bring a snack or meal with you that you know is safe. This can help ensure that you'll have something to eat even if the only thing available is not safe for you. If you do eat something that contains your allergen, be prepared with an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) in case of a severe reaction. If you have a severe reaction, seek medical attention immediately. If you have a food allergy, there's no need to live in fear of foods you can't eat. By following these steps, you can manage your allergy and enjoy your food safely.
IgE Food allergies are caused by a malfunctioning immune system that overreacts to proteins in food. These proteins are called allergens. IgE antibodies are a type of immunoglobulin (Ig) antibody that are produced in response to allergens. They are responsible for the most serious allergic reactions. IgE antibodies attach to mast cells, which are located in the skin, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract. When an allergen enters the body, it binds to the IgE antibodies on the mast cells. This triggers the mast cells to release histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Food allergies are diagnosed with a skin test or a blood test. The skin test is done by scratching the skin with a tiny amount of allergen. If you are allergic to that food, you will develop a red, itchy bump. The blood test measures the level of IgE antibodies in your blood. The most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, eggs, and wheat. These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies. The symptoms of food allergies can vary from mild to life-threatening. They can include itching, hives, swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. There is no cure for food allergies, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. These treatments include avoiding the food allergen, taking medication to relieve symptoms, and receiving allergy shots.
Food allergies can be a challenge to manage, but with careful planning, you can successfully avoid your allergens and maintain a healthy diet.