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How to Avoid Allergic Reactions To Food

Written: 11/15/2007

Have you ever started sneezing when eating peanuts, getting rash on your skin or feeling your heart starting to beat faster? Statistics show that around 12 million Americans suffer from food allergy, with 6.9 million allergic to seafood and 3.3 million allergic to peanuts or tree nuts.

Food allergies occur immediately after consumption of an allergen food unlike food intolerance where it takes hours for the first symptoms to appear. The food is treated as harmful to the body, by the immune system, which defends our organism from harmful external attacks. Chemicals called histamines are released in the blood and trigger allergic symptoms which include:
  • itching

  • Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat, or other parts of the body

  • wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing

  • hoarse voice

  • coughing

  • stomach pain

  • diarrhea

  • nausea or vomiting

  • dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting

The most severe form of food allergy is called anaphylaxis. It is a life threatening condition which is often fatal to certain people. Symptoms may include:
  • itchy skin rash (hives),

  • swelling of the lips and tongue,

  • tightening of the throat,

  • difficulty breathing and

  • feeling faint.
Statistics show that more than 150 people die annually from allergy to certain types of food.

The foods that are responsible for 90 percent of food allergies are:
  • Peanuts

  • Tree nuts, such as walnuts and pecans

  • Milk

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Shellfish

  • Wheat

  • Soy

The best way to prevent food allergies and eat healthily is to avoid eating allergen foods and try replacing them when possible with a corresponding food with the same nutritive values. Here is a few more guidelines about things you should know and how to put them into practice.

  1. Check the food labels cautiously
    When buying food, read attentively the labels on the food products. All manufacturers according to the new Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Act must clearly list all the ingredients of the product including the 8 food allergens even if they are present in trace amounts. If the sticker is not very explicit avoid buying these products, even if they might be cheaper.

  2. Enjoy new products manufactured just for you
    Specialized industries are producing new foods such as cakes, desserts and biscuits which were not eatable by allergic persons initially. They taste nearly the same but substitutes are used for the allergen foods such as nuts and eggs. There are also organisations on the internet like food allergy that design new recipes for children and adults that suffer from food allergies.

  3. Always be on your guard
    The person suffering from food allergy must always carry a first aid kit containing adrenaline and antihistamine injections in case of accidental intake of the allergens.

  4. Sensitize the person concerned and his environment
    The child should be sensitized about his health problem and the dangers of consuming even if its a small bite of a restricted food. The earlier the sensitization starts, the better it will be because kids are more cooperative at a younger age. Siblings and friends should also be informed about the health problems so that they can be more cooperative.

  5. Safe food preparation
    Parents should be very cautious when preparing food. The table and utensils used need to be clean. It is recommended to cook the food of the allergic person in the first place. And while laying the table, they must wash their hands clean to prevent any accidental contact of allergens with the allergic persons.

  6. Visit your doctor regularly and be patient
    Food allergic persons should be patient. In certain people, the allergy disappears gradually. Visit your doctor regularly to find about the progress of your allergies instead of having strict diets everyday. One day you may be able eat like everyone without any fear of having an allergic attack.

  7. Keep a diary
    Keep a diary to note the foods that aggravate your food allergies and new experiences as well as changes that you notice. The help of a dietician is recommended in the beginning. Your GP can direct you to them more easily.

  8. Never succumb to temptation
    Being tempted to have a piece of cake can be very dangerous. Your health and life is much more worth than it. Always think about the efforts people around you are putting to create an allergic-free environment for you.

  9. Use the arrangements made for you
    In school, there are special programs to accommodate special diets to children suffering from life threatening food allergies.

  10. Eat food you are sure is safe
    Allergic persons should avoid consuming cakes that are not homemade and should always carry some snack on them. Buying food in restaurants are risky.

Different laws are being renewed and voted to protect people suffering from allergies. From restaurant foods to dishes served in airplanes, the allergic person has the right to enquire and ensure that the food is safe for him.

Here is a site which can be helpful to you if you have kids and babies.

There have been different studies that have been carried on allergens which I'm sure can be of some help to you.

- Harry

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Ctyndall81 %{author} wrote %{time} 85 months ago:
The other thing that we have learned as a family is if something has Natural Flavoring as an ingredient avoid it. Who knows what they consider to be natural flavoring. My children have to avoid Gluten (Modified Food starch, barley, rye, wheat, MSG.) & Dairy (all dairy from a cow- whey etc.) They all suffer differently. My oldest suffers with symptoms that effect the inside and eventually show up on the outside... and my youngest gets hives, itching, breathing issues, etc. This lifestyle can be overwhelming and hard sometimes but when you figure out what works for you it gets easier. Not to mention removing some of these foods in my own diet has helped with my digestive issues and helped me lose weight and make healthier chooses. Good luck to everyone who has food allergies and keep your chin up! I love this post. Thanks for sharing. God Bless.

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