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food allergy

When a food allergy occurs, the body's immune system is activated and triggers an allergic reaction that occurs after you have eaten a specific food. It's important to note that even a minimal amount of the allergen can be enough to trigger a food allergy, which can result in a range of unpleasant symptoms, including stomach aches, rashes and difficulty breathing.

It is easy to confuse the concepts when it comes to reactions to food. For example, gluten and lactose intolerance is common. Intolerance is another kind of reaction that does not involve the immune system.

Causes of food allergy:

Food allergy is a complex and multifaceted health condition where the body's immune system reacts negatively to specific substances found in certain foods. The exact causes of food allergy are not yet fully understood, but research has identified several factors that are believed to play a role in its onset: - Genetic predisposition: There is a genetic component to food allergy, and people with a family history of allergies are at increased risk of developing food allergy themselves. Specific genes can influence how the immune system reacts to certain substances in food. - Environmental factors: Exposure to allergens and environmental factors can affect the risk of food allergy. Early exposure to potential allergens, such as nuts or eggs, can increase the risk of developing an allergy to these foods. - The development of the immune system: The immune system of infants is developing and can react to new substances in different ways. This can contribute to developing food allergies during early childhood. - Substance exposure: Specific proteins and substances in some foods are known to be more allergenic than others. Examples include egg whites, milk protein, and peanuts. When the body comes into contact with these substances, it can develop an allergic reaction. - Gut health and microbiome: Research has shown that gut health and the balance of the gut microbiome can affect the risk of food allergy. A healthy microbiome can help prevent allergic reactions.

Symptoms of food allergy:

  • Skin reactions: This may include itching, redness, rash (eczema or hives), swelling or difficulty scratching. Skin reactions are common with food allergies and can be localized to one area or spread over the body.
  • Stomach symptoms: Food allergy can lead to stomach problems such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, gas and diarrhea. Stomach and intestinal problems are common especially in children with food allergies.
  • Difficulty breathing: An allergic reaction to food can also affect the airways. Symptoms may include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or tightness in the throat and chest. This is a serious sign and may indicate a potential anaphylactic reaction, which is an acute emergency.
  • Nasal symptoms: Runny nose, nasal congestion and sneezing can occur with food allergy, especially if there is a cross-reaction with pollen allergy.
  • Circulation problems: In severe allergic reactions, blood pressure may drop, and the person may experience dizziness, unconsciousness or collapse.
  • Anaphylactic shock: In very rare cases, food allergy can lead to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. This is an acute reaction that can cause difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, swelling of the face and throat, and unconsciousness. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention.

Treatment in case of food allergy:

Treatment for food allergies is primarily about preventing reactions by completely avoiding the foods you are allergic to. In the case of severe food allergies, there are allergy medicines that doctors prescribe.