foodallThere are fewer health-related issues more mysterious than a food allergy. Finding out the exact cause can be like something from a detective film, and it’s not until the cause is solidly pin-pointed that the person can be sure they have a handle on their allergy, and can avoid the trigger completely.

It’s first important to recognise that a food allergy is totally different from a food intolerance. Food allergies can be fatal in their most severe form, an allergic reaction which occurs instantly or soon after eating a trigger food which the body rejects, sometimes in a violent way. However a food intolerance is more about the body having issues digesting a certain food, such as what happens with a lactose intolerance.

Anyone can have a food allergy at any time in their life. Children with food allergies may grow out of them in time, however if an adult develops an allergy, this is likely to stick with them for the rest of their life. Identifying the cause is vitally important to stop a severe reaction from occurring, and because of the unpredictable nature of a reaction, the mysterious cause should be sought out as quickly as possible.

Symptoms of a food allergy can be wide-reaching, but the main ones are difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, itching in the mouth, skin rashes, hives, diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Throughout the course of the reaction, the symptoms may change from one to another, as the food makes its way through the digestive tract. This can all happen over the space of an hour, and in the event of a severe reaction, it’s important to get help fast.

The most common causes of food allergies are shellfish, such as shrimp, crab, crayfish etc, milk, eggs and peanuts. As soon as the trigger is identified, the person involved should avoid it completely, which of course means checking food labels carefully for the rest of their life. Luckily there are now regulations in place to ensure that ingredients are present on labels, making it easier to avoid important triggers.

When diagnosing a food allergy, the doctor will take a detailed history from the patient, and may at first advise an elimination diet. This is obviously where the patient eliminates certain common triggers one at a time from their diet, and watches for symptoms, keeping a diary to help the doctor make a firm diagnosis. If this still doesn’t throw any light on the problem at hand, there are other blood test-related diagnosis methods which can be used to measure levels of IgE (an antibody involved in the allergic reaction) in the patient’s blood.

Of course, avoidance of the trigger is the best form of attack against a food allergy, however in the event of a severe allergic reaction, the patient may be advised to wear a warning bracelet and carry adrenaline for self-administration in the event of a problem.

A food allergy once diagnosed can be easily managed, but the hard work is figuring out the mystery. If you are at all worried about food allergies, call the practice now on (07) 4661 9988Warwick, or (07) 3854 0165 Tenerife to arrange an appointment.