If you are familiar with running to the bathroom after having dairy, or experiencing red eyes and runny nose after eating specific foods, you probably have food allergies. These are only two examples of many different types of food allergies you might be suffering from. Some people don't even realize they have a sensitivity to certain foods, since the symptoms may be similar to other conditions. Here are some important things to know about food allergies.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Different food allergies will give you a different range of symptoms. Many people think about going into anaphylactic shock when they think of food allergies, but this is only one example. Here are some symptoms of food allergies, based on the type of allergic reaction:
Skin symptoms – Most allergic reactions are skin reactions, which include itching, redness, or hot spots of the skin.
Vascular symptoms – Vascular food allergy symptoms include lightheadedness and dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, anxiety due to the heartbeat changes, and low blood pressure.
Gastrointestinal symptoms – If you experience cramping, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting after eating certain foods, you might have a food allergy, as these are common gastrointestinal symptoms.
Nasal symptoms – Nasal symptoms of food allergies include a runny nose, itchy nose, red or itchy eyes, and sneezing.
Lung symptoms – Some of the more serious symptoms of food allergies include chest tightness, coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
What is food intolerance?
While the terms might be used interchangeably, food intolerance is not the same thing as having food allergies. If you have an intolerance to a certain food, that means you don't have an allergic antibody to protect you from that food. There are toxic and non-toxic classifications of food intolerance. Non-toxic intolerance typically includes being lactose intolerant, which may cause diarrhea, cramping and bloating. There are people allergic to dairy products, but it is not necessarily the same thing as being lactose intolerant. A toxic form of food intolerance is usually to things like caffeine or alcohol.
What foods can you be allergic?
Technically, you can be allergic to any type or classification of food, though there are some that tend to be more common. Children and adults that are allergic to foods are often allergic to:
- Tree nuts
Some of these foods can affect an allergic person just by being near them, while others need to be consumed.
How are food allergies diagnosed and treated?
If you show any of the common symptoms for food allergies, you should note down what foods caused those reactions and see a doctor right away. They will look at your notes, as well as perform allergy testing on your skin. They can also perform a blood test called a RAST test, though the skin test is typically more accurate. They will put a small amount of the allergic antibody of different foods in your skin, then look for a reaction, such as a red spot.
The main course of treatment for food allergies is to avoid the food you are allergic to. You need to be very careful about what you eat and what ingredients are in certain foods. If you are allergic to things like soy or wheat, you need to become familiar with ingredients and labels to be sure it is not included in the food you are eating. For more information, visit http://www.oakbrookallergists.com or a similar website.