Food allergy is a situation that the body experiences when it does not eat a food well, detecting it as a threat. Here we tell you what the symptoms are, how to treat it and not confuse it with other conditions.
First, the portal Pneumours Kids Health explains that a food allergy occurs when the body interprets a food as an invading infectious agent. Therefore, carries out a series of actions to prevent the body from absorbing it. The consequence is the presence of allergies.
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic medical entity warns that the body overreacts, to the point of considering food as a threat, even if it is a small portion. It is worth mentioning that there are cases in which the effects can occur due to the smell, not necessarily when ingested.
This condition does not occur with all foods, it is relative. However, the frequent ones are: eggs, milk, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, soybeans, fish and wheat.
Why is that? On the one hand, the immune system releases an antibody called immunoglobulin E, which is responsible for neutralizing food and tells the body where it is located to release a substance called histamine. The result is that the person will begin to experience allergy symptoms such as itching, swelling, hives, and difficulty breathing.
Given the similarity of the symptoms, can be confused with food intolerance, a different condition. Neumours Kids Heatlh points out that this situation occurs when an organism does not properly digest a food, which generates irritation in the digestive system, triggering the following symptoms: nausea, gas, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea, irritability and headache.
Like allergies, there are foods that are constantly attributed to this condition. Lactose is the most frequent. Mayo Clinic explains that the sugar present in its composition unbalances the body.
Other conditions with which food allergy is confused are: irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and food poisoning. What is the difference with these? Like intolerance, the symptoms are similar, but in reality they respond to other reasons.
On the one hand, irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that frequently causes diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gastroenteritis. Celiac disease is an exclusive complication of gluten consumption and the poisoning is generated by bacteria immersed in the food. So, what distinguishes them from allergies is that they do not generate hives or effects outside the body.
To know for sure if it is an allergy, the medical center recommends going to an allergist, who will be
in charge of reviewing the medical history to find the root of the problem. In addition, you will take the following exams:
- Skin test: determine the foods that caused the problem. A portion is placed on the forearm or back through a small prick under the skin. If it was responsible for the allergy, a lump will form in the area.
- Blood test: used by the allergist to measure levels of immunoglobulin E. The result will be negative or positive, although it is not the completely reliable way to find an allergy, but rather it is done to rule out other conditions.
- Food diary: It works to have a record of the last meals, to then perform the skin test.
- Elimination diet: more than an exam, it is a later plan. This involves excluding suspected food allergens from the diet as directed by the health care professional for a few weeks. Then, it is reintroduced to the diet to see if the symptoms reappear.
- Oral Food Challenge: In this test, you are given small amounts, which are progressively increased, of the presumed food. The health care professional watches you to see if a reaction occurs. Only the reaction to the suspected food confirms the diagnosis of an allergy. If you have no reactions, you can reintroduce that food into your diet.