The Dangers Of Food Allergens

Lanu Pitan

The immune response caused by food allergens can result in a fatality

Photo by Laura Lauch on Unsplash

What Is Food Allergen?

Food Allergens says, is:

‘’Naturally occurring proteins in foods or derivatives of the items that cause abnormal immune responses.’’

Foods allergens are in themselves harmless unless of course, a person is susceptible. An allergen is an abnormal response of the immune system to certain foods, that is the main reason it occurs only in a few numbers of people. The reaction varies from mild and insignificant to very serious and catastrophe to fatality.

Both adult and children can suffer an allergy reaction. However, children who suffer from food allergy often outgrow it, but with adults, it seems to remain, and they will have to manage it.

The Main Cause Of Allergen Reaction

The body immune system mistakes certain proteins found in food as a hazard and releases an antibody (Immugloblin E — IgE ) to counter-effect it or eliminate it. The chemical released is the main cause of the allergic reaction in the sufferer.

It is not known why some people have such reaction to these foods, and so far, there has not been any known cure. Sufferers manage by avoiding those foods that give them an allergic reaction.

Symptoms Of Allergic Reaction

Mild to moderate symptoms occur immediately after eating the foods and may include among others:

Skin rashes —  in some part of the skin or face, which may include redness or swollen patches. The rash may cause itchiness in some people.
Tingling in the mouth — or in the face and or nose area. This may involve itching and swelling as well.
Difficulty in swallowing — looks like there’s a lump gagging the throat.
Wheezing — which may accompany running nose, shortness of breath and or dizziness.
Tummy Ache — which may involve diarrhoea and or vomiting

This list is not exhaustive, as it sometimes affects people differently.

A serious symptom of an allergen is ‘’ANAPHYLAXIS, where the person may collapse due to shortness of breath, lower blood pressure that can lead to fainting, difficulty in breathing and or even death.

Major Foods That Cause Allergenic Reactions

Any protein in certain foods can cause the reaction, but there are foods known to cause the reaction mainly are:

Nuts — usually (peanuts to tree nuts). Tree nuts are other types of nuts like cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc.
Gluten — usually found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley.
Sea Foods — like fish, prawns, crabs, oysters, lobster, mussels etc.
Eggs — or foods made with derivatives of eggs like cakes, pancakes, etc.
Celery — including the juices thereof.
Soybeans — including foods thereof
Sesame Seeds — 
Food preservatives — like sulphites and sulphur dioxide

Photo by Daniel Norris on Unsplash

The UK Government make labelling compulsory to help allergy sufferers to avoid foods that contain the above ingredients. It is always advisable to read the labels, especially if you are buying ready-to-eat foods.

Non-food Products can also contain ingredients that can cause an allergy reaction to sufferers. These products are hair colours, creams, soaps and shampoos, pet foods, glues and adhesives.

How To Help Yourself If You Suffer From Allergy Reaction

The best thing is to limit your food consumption outside your home and desist from buying ready-to-eat foods. This way, you know what goes into what you are eating.

In situations where you need to eat outside, like in restaurants, let the staff know your type of allergy, and be careful in your choice of foods.

Where you are buying ready-to-eat foods, read the labels carefully to ensure you are safe to eat them

Treatment Of Allergy Reaction

The most common treatment of allergy reaction is ‘’antihistamine’’ medication. This works by blocking the effects of the histamine released by the immune system that caused the reaction.

Some of the antihistamines are not suitable for children under two years of age.

Adrenaline — works by increasing the blood pressure in severe cases of an allergic reaction, that is Anaphylaxis. It also helps open up the airways to ease the breathing.

Know the difference Between Allergy And Food Sensitivity

Most ordinary people confuse the two. Allergy reaction always involves THE IMMUNE SYSTEM REACTION, whereas food sensitivity which includes food intolerance is just an ordinary adverse reaction to the food.

Allergy is always an immediate reaction after eating the food, whereas intolerance may take a while after digesting the food for the reaction to take place. This can be vomiting, boasting and tummy upset, which can involve diarrhoea as well.

Treatment of food intolerance is simple, avoid them completely, or if you like them eat very little at a time. That is, introduce them to your system gradually, such that it does not upset your stomach.

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