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How to avoid food allergies?

Food allergies seem to be on the rise. What is a food allergy? This is when you eat something and your body reacts as though that food is harmful to you. This causes your body to fight against the food as if it were an infection or disease. Your body creates antibodies to fight the food allergen; these antibodies are what set off the allergy.

Your food allergy can be triggered by eating, inhaling, or just touching the food you are allergic to. Now, your body will act to defend itself from the attacker (food you are allergic to) by making something called histamine. The chemical, histamine, will cause allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, or cardiovascular system. These symptoms range from a runny nose, itchy skin, and abdominal pain, wheezing, to swelling of tongue, lips and throat. These symptoms can be life threatening should you experience wheezing or swelling seek medical attention immediately. A severe case is called anaphylaxis, this comes on suddenly and if not treated can be life-threatening.

Sometimes people confuse an allergy with food intolerance. The symptoms are similar in some cases. Food intolerance includes symptoms like burping, indigestions, gas, headaches, diarrhea, or nervousness for starters. Food intolerance never involves the immune system, and is rarely dangerous.

What are the common food allergens? The top offenders are milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. However, many times a child will outgrow their food allergen. Studies show that shellfish allergies develop later in life, not affecting child very often.

How long does it take to have an allergic reaction to something? The time for this varies from person to person and can range from very mild to severe. When having a severe reaction, more than one part of the body is involved. A reaction can come as soon as just a few minutes and up to a few hours after contact with the offending food.

How do you diagnose a food allergy? When you go to your doctor he will help you to isolate the problem. Usually, the doctor will start with the most common foods that cause problems. Once you and your doctor have that figured out, you must learn how to avoid that or those foods. Sometimes the doctor may recommend you go to an Allergist. This is a doctor that specializes in allergy issues, he might want to perform blood tests to isolate and confirm the exact problem.

Now that you know and understand what you are allergic to, where do you go from here? The first step is to learn how to avoid this food. Always check the ingredient list, make sure you are not unknowingly eating something that could potentially kill you. Allergies have no cure, but you can control them with avoidance of the allergen and with medications. Antihistamines may be used to treat the symptoms of your allergies by taking the hives, runny nose, and abdominal pain away, but the allergy will still be an issue.

The best thing to do is strive to understand your allergy, and avoid the allergen. Children suffer from food allergies more often than adults, but food allergies affect millions of people in the United States alone.

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