Food Allergies

Living with food allergies

Food allergies can be the most troubling of all allergies. Ant issue is the fact that most of us are no longer buying and cooking our own food from scratch. We eat processed foods of all kinds, and restaurant food is a common component of our diet. Any food prepared by someone else could have allergens added or included. In fact, it is precisely because we are not in control of our food and its contents that creates the biggest challenge with food allergies.

Food allergies can range from mild reactions, such as stomach upset or minor skin irritation, right through to life threatening reactions like anaphylactic shock. However, even the mildest food allergies should be treated with some care and concern, as allergies can become more serious with repeated, uncontrolled exposure to the allergen. Your first and most effective strategy for managing food allergies is strict avoidance of the allergen.

It's not always possible, as many have found.

What do you do if you are exposed to a food allergen? Food allergies can be treated in many of the same ways that you would treat other allergic reactions. Over-the-counter antihistamines may reduce the severity of a reaction. In most cases, you will be better served if you can take an antihistamine before you eat if you suspect exposure to an offending food. If you will be attending an event where food will be catered, taking an antihistamine in advance can help to reduce the chance of a more significant reaction. It may also be helpful to take additional Vitamin C (to bowel tolerance) and additional B vitamins. However, don't rely on these techniques: the best strategy with any allergy (outside of immunotherapy) is to avoid the allergen.

Most people are more familiar with Immunotherapy in relation to seasonal or inhalant allergies. However, there are food allergies for which immunotherapy is also an option. Check with your allergist or immunologist if you are interested in this kind of treatment.

If you have food allergies, it's most likely to be one of the substances on the following list. These are the 10 most common dietary allergens:

  1. Eggs
  2. Dairy
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree nuts
  5. Gluten / wheat
  6. Soy
  7. Fish
  8. Shellfish
  9. Sulfites
  10. Sesame

Allergies can change over time. In some cases, you can actually lose some allergies and gain others. You can also find that you add allergies over time. Be sure to stay aware of how you feel after eating and pay attention to your diet.

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