Common Food Allergies
Common food allergies are abnormal sensitivities to foods such as dairy products, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, wheat, tree nuts, soy, and corn. Symptoms that develop after ingesting allergens include but are not limited to hives, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and swelling. Swelling may encompass the eyes, mouth, and throat leading to anaphylaxis, a very serious reaction that can be life threatening as it can lead to a decrease in blood pressure and shock. Among common foods, peanut allergies in children can be severe making it very important for a caregiver to read the labels on all foods for possible offending ingredients. Those who have severe allergic reactions should have antihistamines or an epinephrine auto injection device handy just in case. Substances that cause abnormal sensitivities can lead to conditions such as eczema, asthma, and other serious autoimmune diseases.
Food sensitivities are common in infants who have been started on solid foods too soon. Solid foods should not start being introduced into a child's diet until he or she is at least six months old. Even then, one item is introduced at a time and the child should be observed for several weeks before trying to introduce another substance. Introducing one substance at a time will allow the caregiver to know which ones should be avoided. The best cereal to introduce first is rice, after that vegetables, fruits, and then proteins. Common food allergies seem to run in families and often include symptoms of hay fever and asthma. Babies who develop eczema should be checked for reactions to food sources.
Reactions to substances that have nutritional value can range from mild to severe. A reaction to dairy products may be related to digestive problems such as lactose intolerance. The symptoms associated with problems digesting milk sugar will usually cause abdominal pain and cramps. The main problem with lactose intolerance is that the person does not have sufficient amounts of the digestive enzyme called lactase. Over-the-counter enzymes can be purchased to ingest at the same time that dairy products are consumed to help the digestive process. If a reaction includes hives, stuffy nose, wheezing, and swelling then consider it common food allergies and take measures to avoid the substance. Suffering with any type of illness can be disheartening but God tells His children to be obedient and listen to His words, "For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh." (Proverbs 4:22)
When an invader comes into contact with the body's immune system it can cause a host of different types of symptoms and discomfort. Unfortunately this can include substances that are consumed as well as other types of triggers such as pollen, pet dander, ragweed, household cleaning products, perfumes, dyes, and cigarette smoke. The discomfort is caused by the release of chemicals in the body trying to rid itself of the allergen. Peanut allergies in children cause this same type of reaction as the body rejects the substance. Having an allergy to peanuts could mean that a person can also have a reaction to legumes and beans since peanuts are not part of the nut family but instead are part of the bean family. However, some people who have reactions to peanuts may have reactions to tree nuts. These include pecans, walnuts, and almonds, among others.
The first thing to do when a substance causes discomfort is to seek the advice of a physician. Allergy tests may reveal sensitivities to common food allergies. A skin test of the opposing substance will show any sensitivity by causing a reaction to the skin. Unfortunately for food sensitivities the only way to treat them is to avoid them. To totally avoid the culprits it may be necessary to read every single food label to find out possible hidden ingredients. Dairy products, wheat, and peanuts are included in many foods and can readily be found on the ingredient list of many processed products. Even items that do not seem to have these ingredients may have trace amounts. For verification, most labels contain a contact number that a person can call to find out questionable items. Peanut allergies in children should alarm the caregiver to be very careful about allowing the child to eat processed foods such as candy, breakfast bars, or products such as trail mix.
Depending upon the severity of the reaction to an ingested substance, a person who has problems should not only avoid the item but should carry a syringe of epinephrine. Sometimes reactions can be life threatening especially in a person who suffers from anaphylaxis shock. Anaphylaxis involves constriction of the lungs, low blood pressure, and swelling of the tongue and throat. Peanut allergies in children and adults can cause this type of severe reaction. Some people who have severe reactions to peanuts may also be allergic to many other foods. For those people the best way to find out what the culprits are is to eliminate all foods and start introducing them back into the diet one at a time.
Allergies, asthma, eczema, and other autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system is not working optimally. Although substance sensitivities are normally not serious, escalation of symptoms should be checked out by a physician. Other symptoms to watch for that may involve the immune system include psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, connective tissue disorder, hepatitis, and aids. Some immune system responses can be traced to triggers in the environment, viruses, hormone levels, and even some prescription drugs. Other common triggers to immune responses include but are not limited to viral infections, mononucleosis, blood transfusions, surgery, smoking, and stress.
Peanut Allergy SymptomsPeanut allergy symptoms can become severe and life threatening for individuals who are allergic. Even just small traces can trigger symptoms such as itching, redness, shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling, abdominal pain, and loss of consciousness. Even when just touching peanuts, the skin will react with hives that can spread over the entire body. People who have an intolerance to peanuts often have other nut allergies. Of all the allergic reactions that people suffer from a peanut intolerance can be the most severe to the point that it can cause death. Being highly allergic can be scary and put fear in a person's heart. God's word can give comfort and help to increase faith. "But unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall" (Malachi 4:2).
People who have an intolerance to nuts will not experience the severity of peanut allergy symptoms as those who are suffering from a severe immune response. They may have indigestion, heartburn, headache, and nausea but the immune system does not become involved so the severity is minimized. Those who have a full blown reaction should always have an EpiPen handy to prevent anaphylactic shock and death. An EpiPen is an injection of epinephrine that will help to stop the reaction so that the patient can seek medical attention.
Hives are one of the common symptoms associated with nut allergies; also known as urticaria. Urticaria appears as raised and red welts and may be accompanied by swelling of the eyes, throat, tongue, face, and airway. After swelling of the airway a person will experience difficulty breathing and afterwards may go into shock. Food allergies often cause digestive distress which often includes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, the respiratory system may be affected and can become obvious when the patient starts coughing, wheezing, and has difficulty breathing. All of these are peanut allergy symptoms but people allergic to other substances can experience similar reactions.
People who have reactions to food may need quick treatment when they come in contact with the offending substance. The first thing to do during an attack is to call emergency services and then look for an auto-injector of epinephrine and administer it. If the person is able to swallow, an antihistamine should be taken orally as well. Nut allergies can be a scary thing for people who have them since the reactions can become so severe. Some people who are highly allergic to substances wear a bracelet or necklace at all times just in case they have a reaction and are unable to respond to others. The necklace or bracelet will help others understand what is causing the symptoms.
A child that suffers from allergies may outgrow them by the time they start to school. Peanut allergy symptoms may gradually decrease in some individuals as they age; however, some people remain allergic throughout their lifetime. In the future there may be a vaccine that can protect individuals from an allergic reaction to the protein found in peanuts. Some therapy that has been tried has been successful but researchers do not recommend a person trying this on their own. The therapy consists of ingesting a small amount of peanut flour every day slowly increasing the amount. This has helped to reduce some sensitivity in patients. This kind of therapy may provide the ground work for additional research and treatment for all kinds of food allergies.
Individuals who are allergic such check all labels before ingesting foods. Most labels will contain a warning that the product may contain traces of nuts if there is a danger. People who have nut allergies will need to be cautious about eating any processed foods. Peanut oil is used in some fast food establishments and restaurants. People who are highly allergic will have a reaction to any allergen they come into contact with even without ingesting it. The most common foods that cause severe reactions in people include peanuts, tree nuts including walnuts and pecans, shellfish, fish, milk, soy, wheat, and eggs. Symptoms that people experience with food allergies are not always severe and may happen periodically depending upon the amount of the offending food. These symptoms include a sudden feeling of weakness and fatigue, anxiety, flushing with redness to the skin, and an increased heart rate.
Some people have food intolerances rather than a full blown food allergy. With an allergic reaction the immune system is responding to the offending substance. When there is a food intolerance then another system in the body is reacting to the substance. Usually the reaction is caused in the digestive tract. Many people have an intolerance to the sugar in milk called lactose. When this happens it does not normally involve the immune system but instead occurs when the person lacks an enzyme that is needed in order to properly digest the substance. Food intolerances normally cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Tests can provide a diagnosis of substances that a person is allergic to including nut allergies. This can be done by injecting tiny amounts of the suspected allergen onto the person's skin. If a person is sensitive to the substance then there will be redness and swelling around the site on the skin. There is really no cure for food allergies. The only thing that a person can do is to try to avoid the substance and be prepared just in case a reaction occurs; being prepared means having an auto-injector of epinephrine and getting medical care immediately. A doctor may give additional epinephrine, steroids, antihistamines, and provide other treatment to help the patient recover. Prompt treatment is important for those people who have a severe life threatening reaction.