Straight, No Chaser: Food Allergies
This week’s Straight, No Chaser posts will focus on your food. Today, we begin with food allergies, which sound like a cruel trick or something out of a horror movie, but unfortunately, they’re all too real. We’ve discussed seasonal allergies and allergic reactions before, but food allergies warrant addressing additional questions you’ve had.
Why do I get allergies anyway?
Food and other types of allergies result from your body mistaking harmless substances for potential threats. The resulting immune response is an attempt to defeat that threat. You are caught in the crossfire, and you exhibit symptoms as a result.
Why do I get allergies to foods I’ve eaten before without a problem?
In many instances, the first time you’re exposed to a certain new food, your body is only primed, and you won’t experience symptoms. A subsequent exposure will prompt the full allergic response.
Is there a way to know if I’m at risk?
Food allergies are more likely in those who have a family history of allergies, asthma or eczema. Take a minute today and ask your parents if they have any allergies to foods or medicines. It’s good to be aware.
How do I know my symptoms are an allergic reaction?
We’ll discuss symptoms shortly, but one big clue is the timing of symptoms. Allergic reactions due to food take place within minutes to a few hours after exposure. It’s not as important for you to know the symptoms as to realize that you’re not well and that evaluation is needed.
So what are the symptoms?
Let’s start with the life-threatening considerations. If you have any shortness of breath, mental status changes (e.g. confusion, severe dizziness) or sensation that your throat is closing, get to an emergency room as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include the following.
- Itching or swelling of your mouth or the tissues between your mouth and throat
- Hives, wheals, or an eruption of your eczema
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Drop in your blood pressure
Can you get food allergies from touching foods?
Yes. As an example, those with peanut allergies can have an allergic reaction from breathing in peanut residue, touching peanuts or using skin products that contain peanuts.
Which foods are most likely to cause allergies?
Here is a partial list of foods commonly causing food allergies.
- Cow’s mik
- Peanuts/tree nuts
Cow’s milk? Is that the same as lactose intolerance?
No. That’s a different consideration and an upcoming post.
What about treatment?
That’s tomorrow’s post. Obviously knowledge and avoidance are key.
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