A food allergy is when your immune system incorrectly identifies a food protein as a threat to your body and attempts to protect it by releasing chemicals into the blood. By releasing these chemicals, an allergic reaction takes place.
Q. What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction to food?
- Blood pressure drop
- Loss of consciousness.
- Sensation of warmth
- Swelling of the mouth and throat area
- Tingling sensation, itching, or a metallic taste in mouth
- Wheezing or other difficulty breathing
These symptoms begin anywhere between several minutes to two hours after exposure to the allergen; life-threatening reactions may get worse over
a period of several hours.
Q. What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that’s onset is rapid. Food allergies are the leading cause of anaphylaxis and is accounts for an estimated 150 to 200 deaths and 30,000 emergency room visits annually. The symptoms of anaphylaxis can include any of those associated with an allergic reaction to food. To treat anaphylactic reactions, studies have show that early administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) is crucial. Epinephrine is available in a self-injectable device (EpiPen® or Twinject®), it must be prescribed by your doctor.
Q. How many people in the U.S. have food allergies?
More than 12 million.
Or to break it down for you - one in 25, or 4 percent of the population.
About 2.2 million school-age children in the U.S. have food allergies.
The incidence in those under the age of 3 is one in 17.
Q. Why are there so many people now with food allergies?
Scientists aren’t sure, but they have several theories including children today are exposed to fewer germs than our bodies are used to dealing with, so the immune system, mislabels certain foods as harmful, since it doesn’t have the germs that were normally present.
Food allergies in the U.S. have doubled over the last 10 years. This is based on reports from allergists across the country, as well as on studies of allergies to peanuts and tree nuts. A FAAN study that was conducted in 1997 and repeated in 2002 showed that peanut allergy had doubled in children during that five-year time span. http://www.foodallergy.org/Research/publishedresearch.html
Q. Can I eat a little of a food allergen and be ok? How much of an allergen does it take to cause a reaction?
It really all depends on the individual, for some even trace amounts can cause a reaction. Ingestion isn’t even necessary to cause a reaction; skin contact or inhalation can sometimes trigger symptoms too.
Q. Is there a cure for food allergies?
There is presently no known cure for food allergy. Strict avoidance of the food allergen is the only way to prevent a reaction.
The following eight foods are responsible for 90% of all food-allergic reactions in the U.S.:
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts)
- Shellfish (e.g., shrimp, crab, lobster)
- Fish (e.g., tuna, salmon, catfish).
All 8 allergens are removed from my recipes, including gluten.
Q. Does my whole family have to give up the things we love when one family member has an allergy?
Most cases, the entire family needs to avoid foods that cause reactions. This sounds like a bummer, but use it as an opportunity to learn together, play with recipes that the whole family loves.
Q. Can I kiss my child if I just ate an allergen?
According to research conducted at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, at least a four hour waiting period should be observed after consuming a food allergen
before kissing someone allergic to that food.