Food allergies involves sensitivity to certain types of foods that cause the immune system to react leading to allergic reactions such as itching, redness, development of rash, difficulty of breathing and sometimes death.
The mechanism of food allergies involves the sensitization of certain types of immunoglobulin, a component of our immune system that helps us ward off foreign bodies that may lead to illness. However, in food allergies, the body detects certain types of foods as harmful for the body stimulating the immune response to produce symptoms that naturally ward off harmful substances in the body. Food allergies commonly develop during childhood, but some people may just discover their food allergies later in life.
The exact cause of food allergies is unknown, but heredity and immunologic mechanisms are the common reasons for its development. Developmental pediatricians say that late introduction of certain types of foods are the main cause of food allergies because people do not get used to it leading to allergic reactions when they are ingested. Regardless of the cause of food allergies, it is important to prevent its development by avoiding foods that you are allergic to.
In case that a food allergy just developed, it is usually hard to tell which foods are you allergic to because of various foods that you take in a day. In order to address this, here are usual measures to take in order to determine food allergies:
- Keeping a food diary
A food diary is the most common tool to detect food allergies. Food diaries contain the specific food you ate in a day along with the associated symptoms you felt immediately or hours after ingestion.
By looking into the food diary, we can assume that the allergic reaction that developed at 10 am on Monday may be due to the chicken sandwich or milk that the person ingested. However, this is not yet 100% sure as other reasons may have caused the allergies. Food allergies allow people as well as health care providers to limit the possible reasons of food allergies.
- Elimination Diet
Elimination diet involves removing a particular food in the diet for a particular period of time in order to detect possible reasons for food allergies. For instance, using the food diary, chicken, wheat and milk may be the possible reasons for the allergy. The person then eliminates the foods one at a time. When symptoms disappear during the elimination diet, it may be probable that the food is causing the allergy. If the person resumes the intake of the food, then allergic symptoms again developed, the doctor usually makes a diagnosis of food allergy.
- Skin test
Skin test is the simplest means of specifically detecting food allergies. The protein component of the specific food is injected under the skin and signs are observed after 30 minutes. The development of rash, redness or increase in the size of the wheal indicates allergy. For people who do not have any idea what might be causing the allergy, a series of skin tests using different materials are injected one at a time. For those who have suspected food allergies, the specific food protein is injected.
Most people have food allergies that tend to be mild, but some people may develop life-threatening reactions. For this reason, it is important to determine what your food allergies are to prevent serious allergic reactions.
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