An allergy is an immune system response to foreign substances that may not pose harm to our bodies. The foreign substances that it attacks are called allergens, which may include pet dander, pollen, and certain foods. The response may involve various symptoms, such as sneezing and inflammation, and depends mainly on the allergen. Individuals with food allergies possess an immune system that reacts to specific proteins found in the food they consume. Food allergy affects about 6-8% percent of children under the age of 3 and about 3% of adults. Even though no cure is present, many children outgrow this allergy gradually as they get older.
What is the Role of the Immune System?
The immune system plays a vital role in protecting our body from germs and certain harmful substances that can make us ill. It consists of proteins, cells, and various organs.
Common Symptoms of Food Allergy
These symptoms may either be severe or mild as they can develop suddenly or over a time frame of several hours. It is the reason why food allergies can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening, mainly if breathing is affected. Individuals with asthma are more at risk of a fatal allergic reaction to food because of these breathing effects. Therefore, it is essential to know of the beforehand to avoid adverse effects.
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps
Severe Symptoms (Anaphylaxis)
- Swelling of the tongue, throat, or lips
- Difficulty breathing, including wheezing
Known Foods that Trigger Allergies
The following foods contain certain proteins in them which cause food allergy in adults:
- Shellfish like crab, lobster, shrimp
- Tree nuts like pecans and walnuts
In children, they are triggered by:
- Cow’s milk
Factors that Increase the Risk of Food Allergies
Here are several factors that directly increase the risk of getting food allergies.
- Family History
Many scientists believe that specific genes inherited from parents cause food allergies. For example, a person whose sibling or parent suffers from a peanut allergy is seven times higher at risk of having it in comparison to those individuals with no evident family history.
- Gut Bacteria
Recent research has shown that gut bacteria get altered in individuals that suffer from seasonal and nut allergies. They also tend to have higher levels of Bacteroides in comparison to clostridial strains, which are lower.
- Other Allergens
People who suffer from asthma are more at risk of developing a food allergy in comparison to people with no other allergies.
- Early Years
Babies born through a C-section who were given antibiotics dosages at birth and those who had food introduced after seven months or late, according to research, have a higher risk of allergies.
It is essential to take measures to cope with food allergies keeping in mind the risks and symptoms.