Food allergies: myths and realities
There are many widespread views about food allergies that do not correspond to the facts.
Food allergy becomes manifest when the immune system of a patient, i.e. when the defense system of an organism that fights against infections, regards certain food components, such as proteins, as foreign bodies and reacts against them.
It is important to know the real data about food allergies because the myths that are spread about may affect one’s health and quality of life negatively.
Babies and children that are allergic to foods are mostly allergic to milk, eggs, wheat, soya, nuts and their products.
Older children and adults who suffer from food allergies are allergic to dry fruits, nuts (hazelnuts, almonds and their products) or to fish and shellfish.
Children as they grow up get over most problems with allergies such as those to milk, eggs and wheat and soya products.
On the other hand, one does not get over allergies to nuts, to certain dry fruits, to fish and shellfish and to allergies that usually last for a whole life.
The impression that many people have allergies to tomatoes and strawberries is mistaken. The view that there is allergy to sugar and fat containing foods is also mistaken.
It is a fact that many adults have a problem with the digestion of sugars contained in milk. The lack of tolerance to lactose is not an allergic condition. For this reason the allergies to milk and diarrheas that are caused by them are not frequent conditions in spite the common view about them.
Another widespread myth is that persons that are allergic to certain foods are also allergic to many other foods. The fact is that most patients are allergic to less than four foods.
Many people believe that food allergies are accompanied by conditions of hyperactivity. The truth is that food allergiesy may cause symptoms that appear suddenly such as swelling, itching, coughing, increased heart beat, rashes, nettle rashes, tightening of the larynx, low blood pressure, paleness, diarrhea and vomiting.
Food allergy may also be accompanied by chronic problems such as eczema and asthma.
Allergies to dyes that are added to various foods are rare. It has been estimated that they may affect less than one in 100 children and less than one in 500 adults.
Food allergy may be manifested in a dangerous way but the education of a patient, the immediate reaction when the illness is manifested; a quick transfer of a patient to the hospital prevents any danger to his or her life.
Especially dangerous is an allergy that manifests itself with anaphylaxis. The anaphylactic shock which is accompanied with difficult breathing and sudden fall of blood pressure may threaten a patient’s life but if the allergy is so serious that it may cause anaphylaxis then the patient should be administered adrenalin after a doctor’s order. The patient may be educated to administer the adrenaline injection himself and this may prove life-saving.
We ought to note that patients with serious anaphylactic reactions must be taken to a hospital even if they take adrenaline in the meantime, something which may lead to the disappearance of all symptoms. The reason is that anaphylactic symptoms may reappear after some hours.
Persons who suffer from food allergies must be careful of what they eat and they ought to avoid anything that causes allergic reactions. They must also read carefully the food labels.
Special care is needed for children. The school ought to informed both about foods that cause allergies to specific children but also as to what should be done when an allergic incident occurs.