Food Allergy – Overview & Basics

food allergyIf your immune system over reacts to any specific protein found in a food, then you have food allergy. Symptoms will appear as you come in contact with the allergen present in just a small amount of food. Most food allergies occur in young children. But they can also occur in older children and adults.

Majority of the allergic reactions are due to the below foods:

  1. Fish
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Cow’s milk
  5. Wheat
  6. Soy
  7. Shellfish
  8. Tree nuts

Many people might think they are allergic to a food but may actually be intolerant to it. Most of the symptoms of food allergy and food intolerance are the same. It is the differences between the two that matters the most. If you are allergic to any particular food, it is the allergen in the food that triggers a response in the immune system. In some cases, reactions of food allergy may be life threatening. Hence people having this type of allergy have to very careful in avoiding the food triggers.

If you are allergic to a food, this may also result in you being allergic to a similar kind of protein that may be present in something else. For instance, if you have allergy towards ragweed, chances are that you may develop allergy to bananas or melons as well. Doctors refer to it as cross reactivity. When your immune system identifies one protein to be closely related to another, then cross reactivity occurs. It is called oral allergy syndrome when foods are involved in it.

Food allergy can occur in children and adults alike. Many children can outgrow a food allergy and it is also possible to develop allergy to certain foods as adults.

Types of Food Allergy

Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)

It is also called as delayed food allergy. It is a severe condition that may result in diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms may progress to poor blood circulation, dehydration and shock due to low BP in some cases. Just like many food allergies, ingesting a food allergen triggers the FPIES allergic reactions. Even though any food can act as a trigger, the most common ones are soy, grains and milk. It usually develops in infants particularly when solid food or formula is introduced to the baby.

Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)

EoE is an allergic condition that results due to the inflammation of the esophagus. Esophagus is a part of digestive system in the form of a tube that connects the throat to the stomach. As per research, the main cause of EoE is allergy or sensitivity to specific proteins present in food. Most people with this type show a family history of  allergic disorders like dermatitis, rhinitis, food allergy or asthma.

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