Food Allergy

Food Allergy: Cause, Symptoms, And Management


  • Food allergy is a perplexing and often misunderstood to food intolerance. It’s a medical status that affects millions of people worldwide.
  • A food allergy entails and involve the immune system and can trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction, especially to a certain proteins in food such as nuts, milk, and dairy.
  • Food allergy affects almost 8% of children and to 4% of adults. 
  • Food intolerance, unlike food allergy,  is a common condition that occurs when individuals experience difficulty in digesting certain foods or nutrients, leading to uncomfortable symptoms. 


Food allergy
Food allergy

Signs of food allergy

Food allergy can surface in different ways and can affect different parts of the body. The common symptoms of allergies include:
  • Sneezing 
  • Itching
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Wheezing
Apart from these common signs, food allergy can also surface in other ways, such as with hives or eczema. 
Food allergy in severe cases, can cause a life-threatening reactions that may require medical attention. 
The other severe cases include:


Anaphylaxis, an hyper sensitivity of a food allergy when they are introduced into the body. Its a life threatening reaction stage that requires immediate medical attention,
Although anaphylaxis reaction may not take place immediately after eating, it may take a while like a few minutes to two hours  
Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
  • Difficulty breathing, 
  • Rapid heartbeat, 
  • Swelling of the face 
  • Swelling of the throat 
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sneezing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
If you notice you are having an allergic response, you should visit a doctor, especially if you have a history of having serious reactions or if your symptoms are severe.

Food Allergy vs. Intolerance

Most times, people having food intolerance get confused to call it food allergy, whereas they are of two distinct conditions that are not the same. 
A food allergy entails and involve the immune system hypersensitivity and can trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction, through the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE).
This happen when you eat especially a certain proteins in food such as nuts, milk and diary
While someone may be said to have a food intolerance when they find it intense to digest certain foods or nutrients, leading to uncomfortable and sometimes painful symptoms.
Food intolerance happens because of the chemicals present in food, and may also occur due to lack of enzymes.
Food allergy and food intolerance may have similar symptoms but they are not the same.
The symptoms of an allergy can range from mild to intense and can be life-threatening, while the symptoms of an intolerance are generally less severe. 

Causes of food allergy

Food allergies arise when a person consumes or comes into contact with their allergen, and the immune system produces an antibody known as immunoglobulin E, or IgE.
IgE then travels through the blood and binds to immune cells known as mast cells and basophils. 
This initial encounter does not result in an allergic reaction; but, repeated interaction with the same allergen may allow previously generated IgE antibodies to detect it.
This identification triggers an immunological response, which might result in a severe allergic reaction. 
Nevertheless, some people produce IgE against a specific food without developing an allergy, while others may have just a minor allergy in comparison to others who experience severe symptoms. 

Common food allergy triggers

There are several allergens, that can cause food allergy but there are most common food that can trigger food allergy. 
These allergens are:
  • Eggs
  • Sesame
  • Peanuts and tree nuts
  • Soy
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Wheat
  • Shellfish
  • Mustard

Diagnosing food allergies

Food allergies can be difficult to diagnose since the symptoms are similar to those of other medical illnesses.
Those with suspected food allergies, on the other hand, can undertake a range of tests with the aid of a healthcare physician or allergist to establish the reason of their symptoms.
A complete medical history and physical examination are the initial steps in detecting a food allergy. 
The healthcare professional will ask comprehensive questions regarding the individual’s symptoms, such as when they occur, how frequently they occur, and how severe they are.
They will also inquire about the individual’s diet and any recent changes or exposures that may be connected to their symptoms.
After a detailed medical history, the healthcare professional may arrange a skin prick test or a blood test to look for particular antibodies that signal an allergic reaction. 
An exclusion diet or food challenge may be advised in some circumstances to help identify the specific item or foods causing the allergic response.
It is crucial to remember that self-diagnosis of food allergies is not advised because many diseases might resemble allergy symptoms. 
Collaboration with a healthcare practitioner or allergist may assist guarantee an accurate diagnosis and suitable treatment plan, which may include allergen avoidance, medicines, and emergency response preparation in the event of a severe reaction.

Risk factors of food allergy

Risk factors, these are the characteristics, conditions, or behaviors that increase the likelihood or probability of a food allergy. 
These risk factors may include:
Family history: You may be at the peril of having food allergies if there are certain health conditions in your family history, health conditions like eczema, asthma, and food allergy itself.   
Genetics: Just like the family history, in genetic disorder, some certain genes are associated with an increased risk of developing food allergies.
Age: Studies has shown that Children are more vulnerable than adults to acquire food allergies, with around 6-8% of children under the age of three afflicted.
Ethnicity: Ethnicity is another risk factor that can facilitate food allergy. Such as African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics.

Management and Treatment

1. Avoidance of allergenic foods

This is the chief strategy for managing food allergies, is to avoid consuming the specific food or ingredient that triggers the allergic reaction.
Once the allergen is identified, the next thing to do is avoid it. 
Apart from this, make sure to also read food labels carefully, be aware of cross-contamination risks, and communicating food allergies to caregivers, restaurants, and schools.

2. Recognizing the symptoms

It’s critical to detect the symptoms of an allergic response, which can range from moderate symptoms like hives or itching to life-threatening symptoms like anaphylaxis. 
Symptoms may appear immediately or develop gradually after consuming the allergenic food. When you begin to notice the symptoms, the necessary actions should be taken. 

3. Healthcare professional

If you perceive that you have a food allergy, it is necessary to speak with your healthcare professional, who can evaluate your symptoms, perform allergy testing, and develop a management plan that suits your individual needs.

4. Allergen immunotherapy

In this type of management, It involves you also to consult with a health professional. In certain food allergies, allergen immunotherapy may be an option. 
This has to do with taking small, controlled amounts of the allergen over time to desensitize their immune system.
This approach is typically used in specialized medical settings and under the guidance of an allergist.

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