Food allergy is a reaction from the response of the immune system. It is a reaction to fight the harmful ingredient in the food. Food allergies vary between infants, children, and adults. The sign and symptoms for food allergies can show reactions that are minor to severe. Treatment for food allergies depend on the signs and symptoms. In infants and young children, they have reactions to milk or soy milk if they are allergic to it. Allergies to milk or soy formula (a milk substitute made from soybeans) sometimes occur in infants and young children.
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These early allergies sometimes do not involve the usual hives or asthma but rather can cause symptoms resembling infantile colic, and perhaps blood in the stool, or poor growth” (Stoppler). The reaction of food allergy in infants is monitored to see if there are any changes in the infants’ diet. The symptoms for children and adults are somewhat similar but with a different pattern.
According to Stoppler: In adults, the most common foods that cause allergic reactions are shellfish, such as shrimp, crayfish, lobster, and crab; nuts from trees, such as walnuts; fish; eggs; and peanuts, a legume that is one of the chief foods that cause serious anaphylactic reactions. In children, the most common foods that cause allergic reactions are eggs, milk, peanuts, and fruits, particularly tomatoes and strawberries. Children sometimes outgrow their allergies, but adults usually do not lose theirs. Food allergies happen when the body takes in food with an ingredient that the body cannot handle. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food – usually a protein – as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food” (WebMD, Feb 2009). Some people form allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, soy products, wheat and other products. Food allergies can be mistake for food intolerance. Food intolerance is a response by the digestive system. “It occurs when something in a food irritates a person’s digestive system or when a person is unable to properly digest or breakdown, the food.
Intolerance to lactose, which is found in milk and other dairy products, is the most common food intolerance” (WebMD, Feb 2009). Food intolerance somewhat resembles to food allergies. “Food intolerance, however, is far more prevalent, occurs in a variety of diseases, and is triggered by several different mechanisms that are distinct from the immunological reaction responsible for food allergy” (Stoppler). Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction for food allergies. “Anaphylaxis is a severe, whole-body allergic reaction to a chemical that has become an allergen” (MedlinePlus).
The signs and symptoms for food allergies vary from minor to severe reactions. It also depends on how much food was consumed for it to trigger the reaction and time. “All of the symptoms of food allergy occur within few minutes to an hour of eating” (Stoppler). Some symptoms are rashes, hives, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, itchy skin, shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling of the airways to the lungs, and anaphylaxis. The allergic reaction occurs in various ways. “A food allergy can initially be experienced as an itching in the mouth and difficulty swallowing and breathing.
Then, during digestion of the food in the stomach and intestines, symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can start. Incidentally, the gastrointestinal symptoms of food allergy are those that are most often confused with the symptoms of different types of food intolerance” (Stoppler). The symptoms for food intolerance are nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, or bloating, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, headaches, irritability, and/or nervousness. One of the severe reactions is anaphylaxis. It is a life-threatening type of allergic reaction. Anaphylactic reactions are severe even when they start off with mild symptoms, such as a tingling in the mouth and throat or discomfort in the abdomen. They can be fatal if not treated quickly” (Stoppler). The symptoms occur from within seconds or minutes. The symptoms are abdominal pain or cramping, abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds, anxiety, confusion, cough, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, fainting, light-headedness, dizziness, hives, itchiness, nasal congestion, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, skin redness, slurred speech, and wheezing.
The signs for anaphylaxis are abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), hives, low blood pressure, mental confusion, rapid pulse, skin that is blue from lack of oxygen or pale from shock, swelling (angioedema) in the throat that may be severe enough to block the airway, swelling of the eyes and/or eyes, weakness, and wheezing. Treatment for food allergies are based on the signs and symptoms if the reaction is mild or severe. One needs to start with avoiding the food that triggers the allergen.
If the food is avoided, the allergic reaction is avoided. “Avoiding the offending allergen in the diet is the primary treatment of food allergy. Once a food to which the patient is sensitive has been identified, the food must be removed from the diet” (Stoppler). For those who have mild allergies, nonprescription antihistamine could possibly control the symptoms. If nonprescription antihistamine doesn’t work then a prescribed antihistamine may need to be taken. For severe reactions, one could be treated in the emergency room or be treated by an epinephrine shot.
According to WebMD, “Food Allergies-Treatment Overview”: If you have a severe allergic reaction, your initial treatment may be done in an emergency room or by emergency personnel. You will be given a shot of epinephrine to stop the further release of histamine and to relax the muscles that help you breathe. You will then be prescribed an allergy kit that contains a syringe of epinephrine and antihistamine tablets. Epinephrine is administered through an auto-injector. It is also known as EpiPen. It is also a treatment to anaphylaxis.
According to Stoppler: These individuals also always should carry a syringe of adrenaline (epinephrine [EpiPen]), obtained by prescription from their doctors, and be prepared to self-administer it if they think they are developing an allergic reaction. They then should immediately seek medical help by either calling the rescue squad or having themselves transported to an emergency room. Food allergies can be rated mild to severe in reaction. The reactions can be similar in children and adults but it depends on the time and what food was eaten and how much of it was eaten. Signs and symptoms vary from each person.
Food allergies can be mistaken sometimes for food intolerance, food poisoning, and toxic reactions. The treatment as well depends on the severity of the reaction if it is a mild reaction to a severe reaction.
Works Cited “Anaphylaxis. ” MedlinePlus. 02 May 2010. Web. 22 Oct 2010. <http://www. nlm. nih. gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000817. htm>. “Food Allergies-Treatment Overview. ” WebMD. 09 Mar 2009. Web. 1 Nov 2010. <http://www. webmd. com/allergies/tc/food-allergies-treatment-overview>. “Is It a Food Allergy or Intolerance? ” WebMD. 05 Feb 2009. Web. 22 Oct 2010.