As the name suggests, food allergy is the immune system’s reaction to food that has been consumed, or sometimes even touched. When a person is allergic to a food, the body reacts by triggering the immune system and producing symptoms that sometimes require immediate medical attention. Common foods that are notorious for causing food allergies are nuts, shellfish, fish, peanuts, eggs, wheat, and dairy.
The symptoms of food allergy vary from person to person. Symptoms range from a mild uncomfortable feeling to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Common symptoms of the food allergy include:
- Digestive problems
- Swollen airways
- Obstructed airways
- Tingling or itching sensation in the mouth
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, throat, or other parts of the body
- Nasal congestion or troubled breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting
In some patients, a food allergy can cause severe anaphylactic reactions leading to:
- Tightening or constriction of airways
- A swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe
- Shock with a severe drop in blood pressure
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness
- Septic shock (in prolonged and extreme cases)
Immediate hospitalization and clearing of the airway are required in case of anaphylactic shock.
The only way to avoid food allergies is to avoid the food that causes the allergic reaction. Once the reaction is triggered then it is important to treat it, and treatment depends on the severity of the reaction.
For a minor food allergic reaction, an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug can be used for treating mild reactions. Antihistamines are available in the form of inhalers to reduce symptoms. Topical antihistamines may be used to relieve the symptoms of itching and hives.
For severe allergic reactions, antihistamines may not work quickly enough. In these cases, an injection of epinephrine may be required. Many people who are aware of their allergies carry an EpiPen that is an epinephrine autoinjector. People who carry an EpiPen are advised to carry it on them all the time. It is also important to check the expiry date of the EpiPen. Extreme temperatures can make the adrenaline less effective. Do not delay injection if you think that you may or may not be experiencing an allergic reaction.
There are some experimental therapies underway to provide a permanent cure to food allergies. This is the case of oral immunotherapies that are used to desensitize the body to a specific food that causes the allergy. Small doses of the allergic food are swallowed or put under the tongue. Studies show promising results for this, but more research is needed.
The best way to prevent strong anaphylactic reactions is by avoiding the food that triggers them. This is the only current prevention against food allergies.
In case of urgent medical care assistance, AfterOurs Urgent Care offers immediate telemedicine services, where medical providers are available to offer assistance. Anyone who experiences signs and symptoms requiring urgent medical attention can simply book their appointment with AfterOurs Urgent Care to directly talk to an expert. If your medical issue is not appropriate for telemedicine, we will let you know and refer you to an in-person facility.
When to visit a doctor:
If you experience a serious food allergy, then you should seek immediate medical assistance.
Treatment for food allergies is available at AfterOurs Urgent Care.
For more information on common food allergies, see the following website: