HEALTH CENTER

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Food Allergies by Lynn Stanton, M.D.

Medical Director

Medical Director

A food allergy is a magnified immune response triggered by a specific food.  The immune system is designed to defend your body from dangerous substances such as bacteria and viruses.  Some people’s bodies identify certain foods as harmful which sets off an immune response.  The most common foods that produce allergic symptoms are milk, eggs, seafood, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Seventy percent of milk and egg allergies will be gone by adolescence, but peanut allergies are life-long.

An allergic reaction from food can cause mild to severe symptoms of one or more of the following:

  • Hives/Eczema/Rash
  • Breathing problems/Coughing/Wheezing
  • Abdominal cramping/Vomiting/Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the tongue and throat

The most severe allergic reaction to food is anaphylaxis.  Anaphylaxis requires immediate emergency action.  Treatment must be initiated using an epinephrine auto-injector (Epi-pen) immediately.  This injector should be carried at all times by all people diagnosed with a food allergy.

People often mistake a food dislike or intolerance for an allergy.  Food intolerance pertains to food which causes cramps, upset stomach, diarrhea, or heartburn.  The usual culprits causing food intolerance are food such as dairy products, wheat or grains with gluten, or corn products.  A real food allergy is not as common as food intolerance.

A visit to the physician can usually differentiate an allergy from food intolerance, food dislikes, and other conditions that mimic food allergies.  Skin testing and blood testing can help determine the condition in allergy suspected patients.  The best test for these patients is a food challenge (the patient consumes specific foods and the symptoms are observed) or a clear history of reaction to a certain food followed by a cessation of symptoms upon removal of the food from the diet.

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.