What is a food allergy?

Do you know what a food allergy is? I can honestly say that I had no idea why people were allergic to foods until my son was diagnosed with an egg allergy and I started doing some investigating online and asking questions to his allergist.

The FARE (Food Allergy Research @ Education) website is a wonderful tool that I’ve mentioned before. On their website, they give a simple breakdown on the basics of what food allergies are: “The job of the body’s immune system is to identify and destroy germs (such as bacteria or viruses) that make you sick. A food allergy results when the immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein – an allergen – as a threat and attacks it.” “Unlike other types of food disorders, such as intolerances, food allergies are “IgE mediated.” This means that your immune system produces abnormally large amounts of an antibody called immunoglobulin E — IgE for short. IgE antibodies fight the “enemy” food allergens by releasing histamine and other chemicals, which trigger the symptoms of an allergic reaction.”

A food reaction can begin within minutes of eating something while some don’t start for several hours. Allergic reactions can range from mild symptoms to severe anaphylaxis. Mild signs and symptoms to look for include, but are not limited to: hives, skin or eye redness, vomiting, sneezing, itchy mouth, and diarrhea. More severe symptoms can include trouble swallowing, shortness of breath, swelling of the throat lips or tongue, skin turning blue, chest pains, and drops in blood pressure.

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 Examples of what an allergic reaction could possibly look like.

Who can have a food allergy? Anyone can develop a food allergy, young or old. It is more common for children to be diagnosed with one than an adult. And typically, if you have a parent with a food allergy, asthma, or eczema, you are at a higher risk.