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Home / Blog / Food Allergies: Knowing the Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Author: Collin Land

Food allergies are serious and sometimes life-threatening medical conditions that affect 32 million Americans. Some allergens, like milk or wheat, are more common than others.

The list of potential food allergens is long and unique to each person. Optimum Health Rehab offers a number of food allergy and food sensitivity services and would be happy to help you identify your food intolerances.

What Is a Food Allergy?

A food allergy is caused by an abnormal response of your immune system to an allergen in the food you eat. Your immune system falsely identifies the allergen as a threat and defends itself by flooding your body with white blood cells. These cells then stimulate the secretion of histamine, which causes your troublesome allergic reaction.

Food allergies are unpredictable and can vary from mild to severe or even life-threatening. They often start during childhood but can be dormant or completely absent until a person reaches adulthood.

Difference Between Food Allergies and Food Intolerances

People often use these two terms interchangeably. However, it’s important to know that food intolerances are different from food allergies. A food intolerance may have some of the same symptoms as a food allergy but is generally a lot less serious than an allergy. Food intolerance symptoms are usually limited to digestive problems and discomfort, while a severe food allergy can result in a life-threatening reaction like anaphylaxis.

If you believe your symptoms or discomfort may be caused by a food intolerance or a food allergy, contact Optimum Health Rehab so we can help diagnose and treat your specific condition.

Food Allergy Symptoms

Food allergy reactions range from uncomfortable to dangerous. Often the same allergen can manifest differently in a child and an adult. The most common symptoms of food allergies are:

In some cases, a food allergy can induce a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can occur within seconds or minutes of ingesting the allergen and may lead to a swollen throat, difficulties breathing, severely low blood pressure, dizziness and loss of consciousness. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can result in death.

The Most Common Food Allergens

While people may develop allergic reactions to just about any food, some of the most common food allergens among both children and adults include:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Azo dyes used in processed foods

While some of these foods can be easily avoided, things like soy, wheat or nuts are commonly, but not so obviously, sneaked into many products. For example, soy can be unexpectedly found in baked goods, infant formula, lunch meats, frozen dinners and even canned tuna. Carefully studying food labels will help you eliminate allergy-triggering foods from your diet.

How to Diagnose Food Allergies

There are several methods your doctor may utilize to diagnose your food allergies. They will likely ask about your family’s history of allergies to look for familial patterns. You may be asked to keep a food log to identify correlations between your diet and your symptoms.

Your doctor may also administer a food sensitivity test, like the one offered at Optimum Health Rehab. Skin prick tests (SPT) involve placing drops of solution containing suspected food allergens on your skin. The drops are then given a tiny poke with a needle to allow the food allergen to enter your skin. If your body reacts by developing small bumps or irritations it will indicate you have a food allergy.

How Optimum Health Rehab in Georgia Can Help Curb Your Food Allergies

Whether food allergies can be treated or should just be managed depends on the severity of your allergies and the types of allergies you have. Some patients may be able to eliminate or lessen the severity of their allergic reactions with rotation diets or other diet modification techniques. Your team at Optimum Health Rehab can help identify food intolerances or allergies and help you develop a healthy and satisfying diet around your restrictions.

For more information, call (877) 704-1761or send a message.

Blog, Nutrition & Healthy Eating