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Food Allergy, Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Complications

Food allergies are allergic reactions that occur as a result of our body's immune system mistakenly responding to food-derived proteins and treating them as a threat. One allergic reaction that appears can be itching and a rash on the skin. Based on the triggers and the duration of symptoms, food allergies are divided into three types, namely immunoglobulin E, non-immunoglobulin E, and a combination of both.

Immunoglobulin E is one of the antibody substances in our immune system. Food allergies triggered by the production of these substances are the most common types of food allergies and the usual symptoms will appear not long after the patient eats. Whereas for eating allergies triggered by antibodies other than immunoglobulin E, the duration of symptoms will require a longer time or usually after hours of eating. The last type of food allergy is a combination of two immunoglobulins namely immunoglobulin E and non-immunoglobulin E. People who suffer from this condition will feel the symptoms of both types of food allergies.

Food Allergy Symptoms

Food Allergy

Food allergies triggered by immunoglobulin E will usually experience symptoms of a red and itchy rash on the skin, tingling or itching in the oral cavity, difficulty swallowing, and swelling of the mouth, face, and other body parts. This type of allergic rash usually appears on the surface of the skin. In addition to these symptoms, nausea and vomiting can also occur, itchy eyes, sneezing or shortness of breath, dizziness or dizziness, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and shortness of breath.

In the case of non-immunoglobulin E food allergies, the main symptom that arises is actually almost the same as the symptoms of food allergies mediated by immunogen bully E, namely the appearance of itching and rashes on the skin. But the difference, the texture of the rash on this type of allergy does not appear to arise. In addition, there are those who experience symptoms such as atopic eczema, which are dry and cracked, red, and itchy.

Sometimes non-immunoglobulin E food allergies can cause symptoms such as those caused by other conditions other than allergies so they may be misdiagnosed. These symptoms include:

  • The genital and anal areas appear reddish.
  • Indigestion.
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • The frequency of defecation increases.
  • There is mucus or blood in your stool.
  • Pale skin.
  • Fussy for babies.

Do not underestimate food allergies because in certain cases can lead to a condition called anaphylaxis or a severe allergic reaction. The initial symptoms of anaphylaxis do look like normal food allergy symptoms, but in a very fast time, symptoms can get worse and the sufferer can experience the following:

  • Very fast heart rate increase.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • The emergence of intense anxiety and fear suddenly.
  • Drastic reduction in blood pressure.
  • Fainted.

If not treated properly, anaphylaxis can even cause death.

Foods That Cause Allergies

All foods have the potential to cause allergies. However, there are certain types of food that are very common in causing these conditions, for example, shrimp, lobster, crabs, fish, and beans. Allergies due to nuts are commonly experienced by children. Apart from nuts, children can also experience allergic reactions after consuming eggs, milk, soybeans, and wheat. Milk allergies in children often cause mixed symptoms that are in allergic immunoglobulin E and non-immunoglobulin E, namely swelling and constipation.

Increased Risk of Food Allergy Risk

If you suffer from allergies other than food allergies, then your chances of getting food allergies are greater than those who have never had any allergies. In addition, if you have a history of asthma, the risk of getting food allergies is also higher because both of these conditions tend to occur simultaneously. Your chances of getting a food allergy are also higher if there are family members who have a history of allergies, hives disease, eczema, or asthma. The last risk factor is age. Infants and toddlers are more susceptible to food allergies compared to adults because the selectivity of absorption of food substances in the digestive organs of infants and toddlers is still low.

Although food allergies tend to disappear when a person is mature, in some cases, this condition can re-emerge when they are adults. Especially for shrimp allergies, lobsters, and crabs, or allergy sufferers who often experience severe reactions, allergies can persist for life.

Food Allergy Diagnosis

In diagnosing food allergies, doctors will usually ask the patient's symptoms and medical history before deciding to do a laboratory test. In addition to the duration of symptoms after exposure to food, severity, and duration of symptoms, the doctor will also ask about the frequency of occurrence of symptoms and what foods might be the cause.

The doctor will ascertain whether the patient has a family with a history of allergies or whether the patient himself has a history of allergies, even though it is not a food allergy. Further examination can be done to confirm the diagnosis. The most common is a blood test to measure the levels of allergic antibodies or immunoglobulins in the bloodstream.

In addition to checking antibody levels in the laboratory, another type of examination that can be done is a skin prick test. In this test, an allergen substance from an extract that is thought to cause allergies is applied to the surface of the patient's skin. Next, the patient's skin will be pierced with a small, sterile needle so that the allergens enter the skin. If after that an allergic reaction occurs, such as redness, itching, or swelling of the skin, it can be concluded that the patient is allergic to the allergen substance.

Other tests and examinations that can be done are tests for food elimination. In this test, patients will be asked to avoid a type of food that is thought to be an allergen for half to one and a half months. If the patient is allergic to this type of food, in that period the patient does not experience an allergic reaction and returns to experience it after the food is consumed again.

Blood tests and skin prick tests are usually performed on patients suspected of having food allergies mediated by immunoglobulin E, which is when symptoms develop very quickly. While food elimination tests are usually carried out in cases of non-immunoglobulin E food allergies, that is, when symptoms develop slowly.

Doctors can also do testing by asking patients to consume foods that are suspected of being allergic triggers in small portions but slowly being improved. If there is no allergic reaction during the test, then the food can be consumed again by the patient every day. Please remember that you do not try to do a food allergy test yourself without supervision or guidance from a specialist doctor to avoid harmful side effects, one of which is a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.

Food Allergy Treatment

Actually, there is no medicine that can cure food allergies. The purpose of the drug here is to relieve an allergic reaction that appears. Therefore, it would be nice if a food allergy sufferer knows and avoids foods that can trigger allergies in him. Based on the severity of the symptoms, there are two types of allergic drugs that are commonly used. The first is antihistamine drugs. This drug is used to relieve allergic reactions or allergic symptoms that are still classified as mild to moderate.

It is important to consult your doctor before taking this drug, because there are several types of antihistamines that are not suitable for use by children under the age of 2 years, such as promethazine and alimemazine. The second type of allergy medicine is a drug that contains adrenaline. This medicine is usually given by a doctor to treat severe allergic symptoms in anaphylaxis by injecting. Adrenaline can overcome breathing difficulties by widening the airway, and overcoming shock by increasing blood pressure.

The Right Time to See a Doctor

If you or your child has an allergic reaction shortly after consuming food, it is recommended to immediately see a doctor. In addition to preventing symptoms from worsening, it will make it easier for doctors to make a diagnosis. If you or your child, or other people around you, experience symptoms of anaphylaxis or a very severe allergic reaction, they should be taken to the hospital immediately. Handling given as soon as possible will increase the chances of sufferers to survive.
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