What is a Food Allergy?
A food allergy is an overreaction of your immune system to a particular molecule in food. Even the smallest traces can trigger potentially life-threatening symptoms such as anaphylaxis which can cause trouble breathing and extremely low blood pressure. However, not all reactions to foods are allergies, so it is important to understand the difference between food intolerances and food allergies. Food intolerance symptoms typically show up gradually and don’t involve an immune system reaction.
The majority of allergic reactions are caused by eight foods:
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts
Symptoms of a Food Allergy
Typically, an allergic reaction to food occurs immediately after coming in contact with the protein, but at times the reaction may manifest several hours later. Symptoms include hives or red, itchy skin, stuffy or itchy nose, sneezing, teary eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or swelling. Symptom of anaphylaxis include hoarseness, throat or chest tightness, lump in the throat, wheezing, trouble breathing, or tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or scalp. If any of these anaphylaxis symptoms occur, call 911 immediately.
Diagnosis & Treatment of Food Allergies
It is critical to determine if your reactions to certain foods are caused by an allergy or an intolerance. Dr. Langford can properly diagnose your condition through a skin test, blood test, or food challenge. After your food allergy is accurately diagnosed, he will work with you to determine the best treatment plan. If you have severe reactions to certain foods, Dr. Langford will educate you on an Anaphylaxis Action Plan will include autoinjectable epinephrine, Epipen, which may be available at no cost through your insurance.
Note from Dr. Langford
I’m not sure if it’s the active outdoor lifestyle of Middle Georgians, but we’re seeing frequent cases of alpha-gal sensitivity. Alpha-gal sensitivity is the delayed reaction to beef, pork, or other mammalian meat. These reactions can be life-threatening, but are inconsistent. This was first described in 2011 and is associated with tick bites of all things.