If you are a food lover, you must have often found yourself not being able to eat your favorite food because of being severely allergic to the same and being engulfed with some or the other types of worst reactions upon eating them. Ever wondered what causes these food allergies? Well, this article strives to answer this specific question and everything related to it.
The conclusion is hopeful of either helping you solve your food allergy problems/symptoms or helping you effectively cope with the same by totally abstaining from foods that can cause severe allergic reactions.
Defining Food Allergy
Being allergic to certain foods soon after consuming them strongly involves the immune system and reactions occurring from that angle. It is so visible in some cases that individuals after eating even a small portion of the allergy-causing food, can experience severe allergic reactions. These may include problems with digestion and breathing issues due to swollen airways. There have also been reports of severe and life-threatening events, such as anaphylaxis.
Both children and adults are susceptible to various types of food allergies. Reportedly speaking, an estimated 8% of children under 5 years, and 4% of adults present with food allergies. To date, and sadly speaking, there is no cure for this specific problem. However, children have been seen to outgrow/surpass their issues with such food-related allergies.
It is important to note here that food allergy and food intolerance are relatively different, though they may sound the same. This is because the latter, i.e., food intolerance happens to be a more common reaction, and for that matter, has been judged to be a far less serious condition even though it may sound bothersome.
If you are wondering whether food poisoning and food allergy are related, you can rest assured that these are two different things because the former is brought on by external factors, such as contamination, the presence of too many preservatives, and spoiled foods.
Types And Symptoms Of Food Allergies
? Types Of Food Allergies
Both Immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated and Non-IgE-mediated types have been recognized as the major food allergy types.
- IgE-Mediated: This type of food allergy is characterized by the formation of the IgE antibodies by the body’s immune system. These antibodies tend to react with specific food. Since antibodies occur as blood proteins, these are programmed to recognize and fight infection. Food allergies mediated by the IgE antibodies usually take place within several hours of ingesting the food allergens.
Examples of food allergens classified as IgE-mediated have included milk, egg, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and nuts (peanut and tree nuts). Of note, these are common in children and adults
- Non-Ige-Mediated: Though the immune system does not produce any IgE antibodies in this case, it does involve some of its parts to directly respond against the entry of a food allergen. The non-IgE-mediated allergic food reactions usually manifest as skin and digestive issues. In some cases, individuals may exhibit a combination of these symptoms by way of diarrhea and vomiting. As such, these can last for up to three days.
Food allergy types classified as non-IgE-mediated, generally affect the small intestine (enteropathy), causing celiac disease and FPIES, eosinophilic esophagitis, and proctocolitis (large intestine).
To note, wheat, rye, barley, cow milk, soy milk, etc., are included here. One should note here that infants are more susceptible to non-IgE-mediated food allergies.
? Symptoms Of Food Allergies
It would be appropriate to classify the food allergy symptoms based on the categorizations, i.e., IgE and Non-IgE-mediated. While the former involves severe symptoms including anaphylaxis, the latter includes diarrhea and vomiting
In addition to the aforementioned food allergy symptoms, there also exist some others, which have included:
- Tingling or itching sensation in the mouth
- A raised and itchy red rash or urticaria, sometimes marked by red and itchy skin without a raised rash
- Face, mouth, or throat swelling, also involving other parts of the body
- Difficulty with swallowing
- Wheezing-cum-shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
Factors Causing Food Allergies
The following have been identified as the most pertinent risk factors causing food allergies:
- Family History: if asthma, eczema, hives, or common allergies like hay fever run in your family, then you are highly susceptible to food-related allergies.
- Age: Since toddlers and young children are more prone to food allergies due to their immature digestive system, with time, this will mature and help them outgrow their allergic symptoms.
- Asthma: The relation between asthma and food allergy is so strong that these tend to occur together. Therefore, the symptoms originating from these can turn out highly severe.
Having gone through the definition, types, and symptoms of food allergies, as well as the factors causing the same, it could be assumed that both children and adults can be affected.
Since food allergy mostly occurs due to an immunologic response, there exist no curative measures other than to avoid eating food that can cause severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. Young children and toddlers, though they can outgrow some of their allergic reactions as their digestive system matures