what is food allergy ( symptoms, causes & treatments ) and its types.

 what is food allergy? The differences between food intolerance & food allergy. why some people allergic to food while some others not? symptoms, causes..etc

  The diseases that connected to food are divided into two main parts, the first is Food Allergy and the second is Food Intolerance.

     Food allergy is emergence of symptoms in the digestive system like nausea , vomiting and abdomen cramps immediately after eating the food , in addition to itching , sneezing , stuffy nose , redness of the skin and urticaria , another symptoms which is Angioedema , it is a swelling of the lips , mouth and throat , where these symptoms result from the expansion of blood vessels as result of the section of Histamine , what let the fluids out from the blood to the tissues.

 

    Modern medical studies have found that the prevalence of food allergy rate at a low 1.4% adults comparative to food intolerance ( which is a disease about a problem in the food itself ) which is very widespread. And it is contrary to what a lot of people thought nudging each gastrointestinal symptoms to food allergy , while most of them caused by food intolerance. Also have been found that food allergy more rampant in children at the first year of their age specifically because of cow’s milk , which is the artificial milk , then the allergy start to decrease whenever the kid grown up.

 

    With the exception that some foods that it’s sensitivity continue and do not decrease with age like peanut, nuts, fish and oyster, also food allergy can be combined with other kinds of allergy for example Eczema and Asthma.

 

    Food allergy varies from one to another community depending on the different eating habits of those communities like peanut allergy in the United State of America and United Kingdom while the common allergy in Japan is the fish allergy.

 

Anaphylactic shock.

 

    The number of deaths because of food allergy is few and it usually happen cause of hypersensitivity ( anaphylactic shock ) like hypersensitivity of peanut , nuts , fish , egg , milk and oyster , some kinds of fruits and some kinds of vegetables. Therefore , the appearance of hypersensitivity to any kind of food consider to be a certain cause to avoid that kind of food forever.

 

    However , avoiding some common foods causes a limitation of patient life , therefore should not make the patient avoid any kind of food but when there is a conclusive evidence of allergy to that kind , so do not avoid that the patient is not allergic to.

 

 

Food allergy.

 

    The normal digestive system in human body absorbs the good nutrients and turn it into energy, and do not allow to allergens to enter the blood cause of the presence of several defensive systems perform this function.

 

    This defensive system like stomach acids and enzymes , lining of the gut and some secretions of antibodies localized within the internal , it’s function to be linked with allergens and prevent it to enter to the blood. However , the defensive systems in newborn kids until three months are immature yet , therefore if the kid had has been given food contains allergens through this age , so it’s enter to the blood and irritates the immune system (allergy) what makes it more vulnerable to any kind of allergy in future. With repeating of exposure of the kid to the same allergens in future , so that expose him to emergence of food allergy symptoms.

 

    The symptoms appears in a short period after eating as instant symptoms which is the which is the symptoms of Angioedema like accumulation of fluids under the skin leads to swelling of the lips , throat , esophagus and eyelids or effects as nausea and severe vomiting , colic in the intestines and diarrhea , however the symptoms may appear in other organs like lung , skin and nose.

 

    All the previous reactions are instant and happen within minutes of eating the food, but that not prevent of reactions happens late after one or two days of eating the food.

 

Food Cause Food Allergy.

 

    It has been discovered in modern medical studies that the count of food that causes allergy are very few include common foods like milk , egg , and wheat products , also has been found that all patients with food allergy are allergic to one or two kinds of food not more.

 

The foods that causes food allergy are :

 

  • Cow’s milk ( artificial milk ) : it is the main reason of allergy for baby kids that their ages less than a year , the few next years the allergy decrease with increase of the age of the kid. Because the studies proved that allergy caused by the protein that found in the milk which boiling do not affect in it ( the protein ) , therefore that kind of milk causes allergy whether it is boiled or not boiled.
  • Albumin : it is the white part in the egg that contains the protein that causes allergy which is not affected by boiling like the protein in the artificial caws milk what means that it causes allergy whether it was cooked or nor cooked.
  • Fish and Seafood: it divided to three …

First is Oysters : it is common that it causes food allergy. Second is Marine Crustaceans : like ( crabs , lobsters and shrimps ) it causes severe skin sensitivity and Angioedema. Third is Marine Mollusk : commonly we found it in shells like ( oysters , mussels , seashells ) these kinds of food also causes food allergy.

  • Wheat products : it consider to be main food for a lot of people , fortunately the substance that causes allergy ( Gluten ) shatter as result of enzymes and secretions of the digestive system , what reduces its dangerous ( against the artificial cow’s milk and albumin the are not affected by anything ).
  • Nuts: like ( cashews, almonds, hazelnuts ) these nuts causes food allergy and it can be developed to become hypersensitivity.
  • Soy: it is kind of grains used a lot in food industrial, according to the final studies it causes hypersensitivity.
  • Peanut: it contains allergens causes allergy and sometimes hypersensitivity, because it has been found that allergens are not affected by roasting or heating, what means it causes allergy whether it was roasted or not.

 

    The allergens are also found in peanut oil , that used for some foods , makeups and soap that used for face which contain it. However , the refined peanut oil consider to be safe for use and do not cause severe allergic reaction opposite to the crude peanut oil  ( not refined ).

 

Food Allergy Symptoms.

 

    The symptoms appear after minutes of eating, and it appears on several systems in the body like Digestive system, Skin, Respiratory system and Circulatory system.

 

Digestive system symptoms.

 

  • Angioedema: it is mouth allergy which starts as itching and swelling of lips and throat, which may be preceded by hypersensitivity that happens as a result of allergy to pollen and different kinds of fruits and vegetables.
  • Nausea: stomach cramps and spasms in the gut, it sometimes develops to be diarrhea and vomiting in minutes after eating.
  • Infant Colic : it consider to be example of food allergy in baby kids less that three months as result of giving them artificial cows milk that destroy the intestinal villi what causes lack of nutrients absorbing , therefore growth deficiency in kids.

 

Skin Symptoms.

 

    It appears as severe urticaria after minutes of eating the food as a rash exactly , what makes it easier for the patients to know the cause of the rash , so they can avoid it and do not for medical advice. However , rarely happen a chronic urticaria which is an urticaria appears for long periods but it is rarely to be because of food.

    Skin allergy in kids , it has been noticed that the severe of this allergy on kids are increase with the increasing of kid exposing to the allergens frequently , what difficult to diagnose the cause of allergy. The foods that cause that kind of ally are egg , milk , peanut , soy and wheat products.

 

Respiratory system.

 

  • A runny nose: it happens after eating within few minutes.
  • Angioedema: as we said before it appears as swelling of throat that happen in the most cases , where the patient feels that there is a heaviness in his throat and difficulty in speech and dry cough , and it may become clogging in the airways , what causes kids choking.
  • Asthma: it may be combined with runny of the nose and skin allergy with kids.

 

Circulatory system symptoms.

 

    The symptoms appear in the circulatory system as hypersensitivity ( Anaphylactic sock ) that appears as low blood pressure ( hypotension ) and circulatory collapse in addition to the ( ventricular tachycardia ) irregular heartbeat, respiratory collapse, and fainting.

 

Diagnosis Food Allergy.

 

Allergic reaction to food can be diagnosed with one of the next ways :

 

  • Firstly : the medical history and clinical information that taken by the doctor from the patient through medical food allergy tests where it consider to be the cornerstone in diagnosis food allergy , also diagnosis of food allergy easier than diagnosis of food intolerance , because when you allergic to food the symptoms appears within a minutes of eating the food , what makes it easy to diagnose when you ask the patient about it , however health workers should know that the taken information form the patient may be inaccurate and incorrect sometimes , in addition allergic reaction mostly happen because of one or two kinds of food , but in some rarely cases with kids may be because of more count of food , where it because of hidden source of food that must the doctor search for.
  • Secondly : ELISA food allergy test and ( SPT ) skin prick test , in addition to the laboratory blood test for allergic reactions ( ELISA ) is able to be used for any kind of food easily , but if it was hard to diagnosis the case you can go to ( SPT ) skin prick test. The skin prick test ( SPT ) consider to be the more accurate than the ( ELISA ) test.
  • Thirdly : ( Food Dairy ) it is dairy given to the patient to record the types of food that he eats at home and any side effects appears after eating that food , where that dairy presented to the doctor later , what makes it easy to the doctor to conclude the type of the food that the patient allergic to. That dairy uses for the patient that suffer from an intermittent symptoms of allergy , because diagnosis the type of the food that causes allergic reaction become easier that time. Otherwise the patients that suffer from chronic food allergy cannot use the diary in their case , because diagnosis the type of the food become hard that time. Tell the patient to record everything he eats even the gum and the toothpaste that he use to clean his teeth , also the patient should record what time he ate any kind of food and the side effects that happens after eating that food , the patient can ask for help from dietitian when he record the food , so it can be medically balanced diet.
  • Fourthly : how to exclude the suspected food ( Elimination Diet ) : after reading or studying the food diary start to be clear that there is a specific food kind suspected in that it makes food allergic reaction , then can be exclude that kind of food from patient meals and watching how much it become better. When you exclude suspected food and notice that the patient condition improves , so that means that the excluded food is cause of allergy. Then the patient is advised to avoid that kind of food , but if the patient did not improved after excluding or avoiding the suspected food , then that excluded food must back that kind of food after two weeks maximum. Avoiding any specific kind of food must be under direct medical supervise and dietitian supervise , especially nutrients that important for health like milk for kids.
  • Fifthly : ( Food Challenge ) it is to expose the patient for specific kind of food and watch the side effects on him after exposing directly , that test depends on the last which is ( Elimination Diet ) after improving the condition of the patient after avoiding that food ( allergen ) use this test to make sure of the connection between food and the allergy. However , it must deal carefully with tests , because it cannot be made but with complete medical team specialized in this field , in addition to a place has all medical abilities for any emergency like hypersensitivity ( Anaphylactic shock ).

 

Food Allergy Treatment.

 

    All the patient that has food allergic reaction must be treated under the supervision of a medical team specialist in allergy like a doctor specialist in allergy and a doctor specialist in dietitian , then he must avoid the allergen food with note excluding a specific kind of food effects on the life of the patient and restrict his move , so the patient must not avoid any kind of food except if there was clear medical evidence that he allergic to that kind of food , because it has been noticed that a lot of people advice patients to avoid a specific kind of food just by guessing and this is not correct.

    But even if it was ascertained that a specific food is an allergens , it must not increase the number of food that the patient avoid it more than one or two , and do not advice the patient to avoid a large number of foods because that causes malnutrition.

 

    Excluding or avoiding any type of food must be after the doctor consolation according to the way of life and nutrition of the patient what increase his convictions when he chose the alternative and the chances of cure success. Although the cornerstone of treatment is to avoid the food causing allergy ( allergens ), this avoidance is difficult and not easy.

 

    In the event of hypersensitivity as result of specific kind of food , that kind of food must be avoided forever and the patient must be given the Adrenaline Auto-injector and train him how to use it in emergency. The patient should review the clinic regularly in addition to be given a bracelet to wear , this bracelet clarify the patient condition when he fainted because of hypersensitivity , what enable paramedics from the rapid identification and give him the Adrenaline Auto-injector.

    Gathering the patients that suffer from hypersensitivity for the transmission of experts, either the patients that have side effects but it is not dangerous, they are advised to return the allergic food after two years from stopping gradually.

 

Health Awareness.

 

Of the most important factors in treatment is health Awareness or health education:

 

  • Intensive health education in the field of food allergy is necessary to educate the patient how to avoid the allergens, what is the alternative for it, how to use it?
  • The alternative nutritional must provide balance to the patient because if it did not the patient will suffer malnutrition.
  • The importance of accurate continuous care and follow-up with the dietitian.
  • It seems easy to do everything we have said but actually it is really hard , it needs a medical team to aware or educate the patient what he is going to do ? Or what he will face ? Because of that it need to explain every food source that contains the allergens , for example if we want to aware a patient to avoid milk , how many foods contains milk … It’s very much.
  • The patient must be educated how to read the contents of any food products he buy from the market , by reading the contents and knowing the food alternatives that the patient can read it on the outside of the food tray. Food Alternatives : means alternative name for the same food that may causes allergy , so the patient must avoid it , for example these are alternative names for egg ( Mayonnaise , Ovalbumin , Ovomucin , Ovomucoid Albumin ), also the bright appearance of some baked may refer that it may contains egg.
  • It is difficult to apply the previous instructions on foods that there is no illustration on from outside clarify the content , like in restaurant , fast-food , sweets restaurant. For that food allergy patients advised to eat their meals at home so they are sure about the contents or to buy canned food if know the alternative names , with considering that alternatives will not effect on the patient life psychologically and physically.

 

Children or Kids Food Allergy.

 

    Avoiding any food with kids that infected of food allergy must be under direct order from a specialist doctor in allergy and dietitian , and that be after being sure of the food that causes allergy, also after extensive discussion with the mother and its sharing of making a decision after giving her all the alternatives to that food of course. All that because we are afraid that the kid exposed to malnutrition whether food avoiding process done careless or uncharted.

 

For avoiding milk for newborn kids, there are major points take care of …

 

  • The most important food for kids is the mother’s milk, because of it’s excellent nutritional value, it is also established the psychological relationship between the kid and his mother.
  • Most of the mothers depend the dried artificial cow’s milk that sold in markets, and that is after dissolving it in warm water and give it to the kids in bottles, and as known that most kinds of that milk are from animals.
  • Cow’s milk is one of the most important reasons of food allergy for kids.
  • When you confirm that the kid is allergic to cow’s milk , the mother must avoid that kind of food of milk and give the kid balanced medical alternative to avoid malnutrition , like soy milk or some kinds of special artificial milk that do not causes allergic reaction for kids. ( but you should take care that soy milk do not have the same nutritional value of cow’s milk and mother’s milk , also you must confirm that the kid is not allergic to soy milk ).
  • Mother’s milk must not be stopped just in some serious conditions and give the kid calcium as fortified diet.

 

Side Effect.

 

Excluding the food that causes allergy is useful for food allergy patients, but it has side Effect on the patient like:

 

  • Malnutrition and psychological deprivation.
  • The expensive costs because food alternative is much expensive.
  • Anxiety and tension of the patient and his family.
  • Excessive protection of the limits on the psyche of the patient, especially if he was a kid.
  • Isolation from society as result of avoiding special kinds of food, because the patient won’t tell the people around him about his problem.
  • Anger, depression, and frustration at the time of the symptoms of food allergy, despite he avoiding all foods causes allergy completely, because the allergic food hidden in another food and the patient do not know about.

 

 

Drugs Role in Food Allergy.

 

    Drugs role in the treatment of food allergy is secondary role , and it is used for relieving the symptoms of allergy such as anti-histamine medication that relieve the symptoms of allergy like rash and itching or use of Adrenaline Auto-injector that the patient trained on how to use it at hypersensitivity or Anaphylactic shock, but that not means to stop avoiding food that causes allergy.

 

Important questions to diagnosis food allergy.

 

  • What are the symptoms that appeared on the patient?
  • What is the suspected food that the patient eat and you think there is the connection between it and the symptoms?
  • What is the amount that the patient eat the suspected food?
  • How much time did it take from eating the food until symptoms appearing?
  • Do the same symptoms appeared before as result of eating the same food?
  • Does the patient think that there are another factors related to food allergy like sport!
  • Is there any connection between patient symptoms and alcohol and some drugs like ( lactam antibiotic ) that uses fore treatment of high blood pressure?
  • When do the symptoms of food allergy appear last time?