Food allergy is actually an abnormal response triggered by the immune system to food as if it is threatening. Food intolerance looks similar to food allergies. However, the difference lies in how each one of them affects an individual. Food allergy is extremely intrinsic and to an extent, affects the internal organs.
On the other hand, food intolerance is less severe, mostly just affects the digestive system due to the inability to digest that particular food properly, leading to an upset stomach. Most of the people suffer from food intolerance only, but they confuse it with food allergy.
In order to understand how symptoms manifest, it is of utmost importance, in this case, to understand how an allergic reaction to food occurs. An allergic reaction is a bi-step process as discussed further.
Step1: On exposure to the food allergen for the first time, the body reacts abnormally and produces IgE antibodies against the perceived allergen. These circulate throughout the entire body with blood and attach themselves to basophils (found in blood) and mast cells (found in sites like the nose, lungs, throat, gastrointestinal tract, skin, etc.).
Step 2: The next time the body is exposed to a particular food allergen, it gets alert and alarms the tissue that releases histamine in large quantity. Depending on the site of release, allergy symptoms are caused, ranging from mild to severe to potentially life-threatening (for example, in anaphylaxis).
The time span for an allergic reaction manifesting into symptoms can vary between a few minutes to several hours post exposure to the food allergen. The site of mast cells for release of histamine greatly affects the location and timing of the reaction.
Who is at Higher Risk?
If a person has a family history of developing a food allergy, it creates even greater chances for him/ her to have the same or similar reactions. If both the parents have some kind of allergic reaction to food, it is very likely that the child would have that too.
Symptoms of food allergies largely depend on the sites of mast cells that release histamines. It is possible that these sites are located in nose, ears, or throat leading to itching in mouth, having a trouble in swallowing and breathing, and swelling of lips and tongue. If the location is in the gastrointestinal tract, it may lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. If it is in the skin, it might lead to hives, itching, decolourization, pigmentation, worsened eczema, etc.
If a person has an allergy to a particular food, it is advisable to abstain from similar types of food. For example, if somebody is allergic to crab, he/ she should abstain from shrimp, crayfish, lobster, etc. too as they might also trigger the reaction. This is called cross reactivity.
It is always advisable to abstain from foods which cause an allergic reaction in an individual. However, in case it has already occurred, there are two major types of medication which help in relieving the symptoms. Antihistamines are used for treating mild to chronic reaction, whereas adrenalines are used for severe reaction like in anaphylaxis.
Food allergy is usually a condition for life and cannot be permanently treated. However, symptoms can be relieved. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid the allergy, causing group of food.
Antibodies are substances produced by your immune system to protect you from harmful invaders that can cause infections or make you ill.
The immune system produces antibodies when it comes into contact with allergens. Your immune system can recognise any allergen as threatening even if it’s not. As a result, your skin, airways, digestive system or sinus gets inflamed.
Allergies can vary greatly in severity—from mild irritations to anaphylaxis (a likely life-threatening emergency). Allergies are mostly incurable; however, there are various treatments available to alleviate allergy symptoms.
Common triggers of allergy include:
Airborne allergens, such as mould, dust mites, animal dander and pollen.
Insect bites, such as wasp stings or bee stings.
Medications, specifically penicillin-based antibiotics or penicillin.
Latex, or any allergen you touch, causes skin infections.
Symptoms of allergy depend on its type.
Symptoms of food allergy include:
An allergy caused by insect stings can manifest in symptoms such as:
A drug allergy can lead to symptoms such as:
Atopic dermatitis (skin allergy) symptoms include:
Peeling or flaky skin
Treatments of allergy include:
Avoiding Allergens: Your doctor can help you take necessary steps to recognise and avoid the allergens that trigger allergies. This is usually the most relevant step in the prevention of allergic reactions and reduction of symptoms.
Medicines to Lower Symptoms: Eye drops, nasal sprays or oral medications are commonly prescribed to reduce reactions and alleviate symptoms.
Immunotherapy: If the allergy is severe or other treatments fail to relieve symptoms, allergen immunotherapy is recommended. In this treatment, you get injected by a number of clarified allergen extracts over the years.
You may be surprised to know that the health of your gut influences the health of your brain. The microbial imbalance in your gut is linked to various psychiatric disorders. Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is one of the gut disorders that can cause inflammation in the brain. It has been linked to certain mental disorders like depression.
What is a leaky gut?
It is a digestive condition, in which the intestinal wall is damaged due to your diet, the presence of a protein called zonulin or some medications. All bacteria and toxin waste products leak through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. This condition triggers the immune system and causes widespread inflammation and allergic reactions like a migraine, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, food allergies etc.
Leaky gut and the brain:
Research shows a link between leaky gut and a number of mental disorders, like-
The ‘leaky’ diet
You can prevent high permeability of your intestines if you manage and plan your diet with the right food
What to eat-
• Leafy vegetables - Spinach, cabbage, asparagus, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower are high in all the important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, folate, folic acid, selenium etc. These enhance the production of neurotransmitters in your brain. They help you to stay away from high anxiety and depression.
To decrease the risk of gut permeability and to maintain your mental well-being, focus on a healthy diet free of sugar. Remember that a healthy gut will lead to a healthy mind.
Is Acupuncture any good against allergies?
An allergy is the result of hypersensitivity of the antibodies in your body to otherwise harmless foreign substances. Conventional practices rely on suppressing the function of antibodies to cure allergies but fail to address the root problem of hypersensitivity. It may also present a series of undesirable side effects that hamper your productivity.
If you are tired of the regular use of medication that accompanies your chronic allergies, you might consider the Chinese practice of acupuncture to cure you instead. A session with a licensed acupuncturist not only cures rashes and redness, stuffed nose, breathlessness, nausea etc. that present themselves with allergies but also act on the real problem of hypersensitivity. Acupuncture cleanses your body from within and is being increasingly accepted as an alternate practice to cure a range of ailments.
Causes of Allergies -
The diverse causes of allergies can be grouped under the following -
• Dust mites and pollen- Dust and pollen constitute a group of potential allergens that affect the respiratory tract
• Food - The chemicals in some foods can be potential allergens
• Drugs - Unnatural physical response to certain medications cause allergies
• Animals and insects - The proteins in the organisms’ body may cause allergies
• Mold - Inhalation of mold spores may trigger an allergic reaction in your body
• Contact dermatitis - Contact with certain substance can trigger allergies, causing irritation in the skin
• Seasonal allergies - Certain allergies are triggered by annual seasonal changes
Treating allergies with acupuncture -
Acupuncture is based on the 8000-year-old Chinese practice of channelling energy or qi through the body by inserting needles at specified points in the body, to various depths. Although the premise of acupuncture remains scientifically uncertain, its effectiveness has been demonstrated in practical areas.
• In acupuncture, an allergy is a response to blockage in channels through which energy flows in our body. The logic behind the treatment is releasing this blockage by means of needles to restore balanced energy flow and consequently health.
• Acupuncture initiates the self-healing abilities of the body and most people feel better with very little or no use medicines.
• The success of acupuncture in treating allergies, especially seasonal allergies is rather high. However, equally high are the results that highlight the placebo effect of acupuncture.
Although acupuncture remains to be clinically proven, it has presented impressive results when it comes to treating allergies, especially those of the chronic seasonal variety. It can eliminate the side effects of medication, though the time taken for cure varies from individual to individual and their body’s specific response to acupuncture. If you are looking for alternate practices that relieve you of allergies, acupuncture may just be the thing to try.
Sometimes, during consumption of certain food items, many children get itchy throat, eyes, ears, asthma, sneezing, rashes, diarrhea and eczema. This can be due to food intolerance in children. It is a form of allergic disease in children. Every 1 out of 10 children suffer from food intolerance. These days, food allergies are becoming more and more common in children who are allergic to nuts, milk and eggs. In some cases, it can also be life-threatening. This condition is known as anaphylaxis. Milk and egg allergies are more common throughout the world.
Symptoms of food intolerance:
Your bowels start becoming irritable.
Stomach starts to ache.
Cough and cold is a common symptom.
Itchy skin rash
Causes of food intolerance in children:
There are enzymes in your body, which help you to digest the food you consume. Some enzymes in your body are insufficient; which further causes food intolerance in children. For instance, lactose intolerance causes spasms, stomach aches, diarrhea and so on so forth.
Some food products can also cause food intolerance such as undercooked beans containing aflatoxins can cause extreme stomach infections in children.
Some children are also intolerant to certain food products which have salicylates such as majority of fruits, vegetables, herbs and also additives. Processed food contains a high amount of salicylates.
Children can be allergic to antioxidants like artificial food coloring, artificial flavoring and preservatives.
What to do if you think your child has food intolerance?
Take your child for a skin prick test. In this test, the skin is pricked with a thin needle and when the blood oozes out, supplements of different food products are put in that area. If that particular area becomes reddish and begins to itch, your child has allergy to that certain food product
A blood test should be done. It verifies the level of IgE present in your blood and finds out if your child is suffering from food intolerance or not.
Commonly prescribed homeopathy medicines for specific allergens:-
Allergies are caused by unnatural reactions between your body's immune system and foreign substances, which have gained access into the body. When these substances, known as allergens, enter your body, your immune system produces antibodies, which are responsible for warding off unwanted substances like harmful viruses or diseases and helping in the body's overall resistance.
The main cause of allergy is the uncontrolled reaction between the immune system's antibodies and harmless allergens. Allergic reactions are triggered when antibodies, like histamine, come into contact with particular types of allergens. These may include:
Allergy affects mainly two systems - Respiratory and Skin.
Common respiratory allergy problems are as below:
Common skin allergy problems are as below:
All these allergic problems are curable with homeopathic treatment.
Symptoms of allergies depend upon a wide range of factors, which are subjective and vary from person to person and from allergen to allergen. Depending upon the type of allergen involved and the nature of the allergy, symptoms may include any of the following:
These symptoms are common in mild to moderate allergies, such as atopic dermatitis, hay fever, drug or food allergies. There are certain rare cases (say, scorpion stings), however, in which the allergic reaction turns out to be potentially life-threatening. This type of reaction is known as anaphylaxis. Here are its signs and symptoms:
Homeopathy effectively deals with any sort of allergy by taking into account individualistic symptoms and thus nipping the root cause in the bud. Natrum Mur, Urtica Urens, Sulphur and Natrum Carb, among others, are very effective medicines against allergies. But these must be taken after due discussion with the doctor as they check out the symptoms and then prescribe the medicine basis that.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening if not treated right away. It can occur on your body within no time. It generally occurs when you get exposed to something with which you have an allergy including bee stings or peanuts. Due to anaphylaxis, the immune system of a person can release a lot of chemicals that can cause the person to anaphylactic shock. Because of this, there can be a sudden drop in blood pressure, blockage in breathing, and airways can become narrow. Vomiting, weak or rapid pulse, nausea and a skin rash are some of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. In order to treat anaphylaxis, a person needs an immediate injection of epinephrine or adrenaline. If adrenaline injection is not available, then the person should be taken to an emergency unit. Sometimes, it can be life-threatening if not treated properly on time.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis can be noticed within some minutes of being exposed to an allergen. The symptoms can also appear around or after half an hour of the exposure to an allergen. Check out the various signs that may occur due to anaphylaxis:
- Your airways can become narrow and throat or tongue can swell which can lead to trouble in breathing or can cause wheezing.
- Weak or rapid pulse is a common symptom of anaphylaxis.
- Anaphylaxis can lead to nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting.
- You may suffer from hypotension or low blood pressure due to this allergic reaction.
- You may have a feeling of fainting or dizziness in anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction. Generally, this problem occurs in children due to an allergy from certain food items including fish, peanuts, milk, and shellfish. Besides all these food items, anaphylaxis can occur in adults due to various reasons including:
- There are some medicines that cause you anaphylaxis including aspirin, antibiotics and some over-the-counter medications.
- There are some imaging tests that use intravenous contrast IV that may lead to anaphylaxis.
- The allergy can occur due to proteins found in natural rubber latex may lead to anaphylaxis.
- Stings from yellowjackets, stings, fire ants, wasps, and hornets are also the causes of anaphylaxis
- It is not common but there is a possibility that people can get anaphylaxis from doing aerobics or exercises that may include jogging and even from the exercise which is less intense like walking. Some people can catch anaphylaxis if they eat certain food items before exercising in cold, humid or hot weather. You should talk to your doctor about the precautions that you need to take when you are exercising.
There are various tests that help to rule out the allergen that caused you an allergic reaction. Sometimes, the exact cause of anaphylaxis is not known.
How is it diagnosed?
As soon as you experience the symptoms or signs of anaphylaxis, you should visit the best doctor for the diagnosis as anaphylaxis is a serious problem and can threaten your life. Your doctor will do a physical examination and he or she will ask you about the previous history of allergic reactions. Your doctor will check from you if you are allergic to certain food items, insect stings, latex or some medicines. If you have a history of allergic reactions than there are chances that you will have a reaction in the future. Your doctor might ask you to go for some tests in order to be sure about the diagnosis. For this purpose, some skin or blood tests can be done. A test can be done in which you are exposed to a bit of thing that can be a reason for your allergy. Check out the various tests that can be done for the diagnosis:
- Allergy skin prick or scratch test: It is a common method used for testing an allergy. In this test, a small amount of substance is placed on your skin that has been suspected to be a reason for your allergy. After the placement of substance, your doctor pricks or scratches your skin in order to introduce the substance under your skin surface. Then the skin is closely noticed by your doctor for a reaction which can include redness or swelling.
- Percutaneous or intradermal testing: It is also a skin testing method used for confirming the presence of the disease. In percutaneous testing, a needle is introduced into the outer layers of the skin for injecting a drop of allergen and then the epidermis is lifted up gently. In intracutaneous testing, a small amount of allergen is injected into your dermis.
Others conditions can also have symptoms of anaphylaxis. Your doctor will do his or her best in order to find out other conditions too.
Prevention of Anaphylaxis:
It is a rare but serious allergy that can even threaten your life. This allergy can occur to you all of a sudden. Check out some of the ways that will help you to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis:
- Tell your friends and family about the substances with which you are allergic so that they do not mix those substances in the food that they cook for you.
- Grab your own food when you are going to some unknown place and you have no idea about their meal plan.
- Sometimes, allergy can also occur due to touching the food items with which you are allergic. Before grabbing a seat, you should be sure that the area around you is clean and does have any evidence of food that can give you an allergy.
- Check the ingredients of packaged food items before buying and make sure that they do not include the items with which you are allergic.
- You can wear a medical bracelet that alerts you about the allergies.
- If you are allergic to stings of insects then you should wear clothes that cover you completely whenever you go outside.
- Always keep epinephrine or adrenaline injection kits with you.
Treatment of Anaphylaxis:
Check out various treatment options that are available for the patients affected by anaphylaxis:
- Epinephrine or adrenaline: It is generally used as an initial drug in case of anaphylaxis. It is more effective when injected just after the exposure to an allergen. If not injected at the earliest then it can lead to complications even death. It is used to minimize the allergic response in your body.
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): It is an emergency procedure that can be used when you have an attack of anaphylactic due to which you are not able to breathe and your heart is not beating.
- Cortisone and intravenous (IV) antihistamines: These are used to minimize the inflammation or swelling in your air passages and also to help you in improving your breathing.
- Oxygen: If a patient affected by anaphylaxis is facing problem in breathing then oxygen may be given to the patient help in breathing.
- Beta-agonist (like albuterol): Your doctor may prescribe a beta-agonist (like albuterol) in order to relieve the symptoms related to breathing.
Check out the various complications that are associated with anaphylaxis:
- Anaphylactic shock: Sometimes people can have an allergic reaction to the exposure of insect sting, latex, medicine, and some food items. This can lead to anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening condition. Due to this, the immune system can release some chemicals that can flood the body resulting in anaphylactic shock.
- Other complications: Sometimes due to anaphylaxis, people stop breathing and they suffer from a blockage in air passages because of the inflammation or swelling of the air passages. You may also suffer from a heart attack due to anaphylaxis.
Myths related to Anaphylaxis
Check out various misconceptions that people have about anaphylaxis:
Myth #1: Anaphylaxis happens right away.
A lot of people think that anaphylaxis happens right away. But the reality is that it happens after a few minutes of exposure to an allergen including medication, insect sting, latex, and certain food items. There is also a possibility that you experience the symptoms of anaphylaxis around or after half an hour of exposure to an allergen. The symptoms can back sometimes even after the treatment. That is why a person should be admitted to the hospital so that he or she gets complete care for several hours.
Myth #2: Anaphylaxis can be treated with over-the-counter medicines.
The initial treatment that should be given in case of anaphylaxis is injections of epinephrine or adrenaline. It helps to raise your heartbeat and also open your air passages. This medicine is injected into the muscle of your upper thigh. If you are not sure about the symptoms then also you can use this as it would not cause you any harm even if it is not anaphylaxis. You can get these injectors on prescription only. You should always keep them with you. It is a serious problem, so it is important that you visit a hospital.
Myth #3: Epinephrine or adrenaline is not easy to inject.
Epinephrine or adrenaline is easy and safe to inject. You can do this on your own. People think that epinephrine has various side effects but there are very less. There is a possibility that may get nervous with the idea of using a needle. You should always keep the kits of auto-injector with you so that you can use it when required. You should ask your doctor about the right tips to use this injector.
Myth #4: It is easy to know the exact cause of anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis can occur due to an allergen that may include certain food items, medications, latex and insect sting. Various tests can be conducted to diagnose anaphylaxis. But sometimes it is not possible to know the exact cause of anaphylaxis. Such cases are known as idiopathic anaphylaxis. It is important that you visit the best doctor as soon as you discover the symptom as it is a fatal problem.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction that can occur if you get exposed to something with which you are allergic. Itching, pale skin, hives, fainting, dizziness, low blood pressure, weak or rapid pulse and trouble in breathing are some of the symptoms of anaphylaxis. As soon as you experience the symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should visit a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor may conduct various blood and skin tests in order to diagnose anaphylaxis and provide you with treatment. Epinephrine or adrenaline is a drug that is used initially to treat the problem of anaphylaxis. You can inject epinephrine or adrenaline on your own. You should always keep the kits of adrenaline auto-injectors with you. You should cover yourself completely while going outside if you an allergy from the insect sting. Before eating anything outside, you should confirm that it does not include any item with which you are allergic. Anaphylactic shock is a major complication associated with anaphylaxis that can even lead to death if not treated properly on time or left untreated. It is important that you should visit a hospital for the treatment of anaphylaxis as it is a serious problem that requires proper care for several hours.
Every year, the emergency rooms at hospitals get flooded by cases of allergic reactions from food. According to a census, about 15 million Indians suffer from some kind of food allergy. The symptoms of food allergy may vary from itchy mouth to potentially fatal conditions like anaphylactic shock. Other symptoms of an allergic reaction can present themselves as difficulty in breathing, swelling of tongue, rashes and intestinal discomfort.
According to specialists, allergies to food can develop at any age, at any time. Hence, if you suspect a sudden allergic reaction to a food that you have consumed before without any problem, it is advised to consult your doctor.
Here is a list of the most common allergy-causing foods-