Food Allergy Symptoms and Causes

Food allergy is a common cause of discomfort in many people. Some of the food items consumed by people can set off an allergic reaction which can become life threatening in no time. To safeguard against such a situation you need to know the causes and symptoms of food allergy. Given below are details about food allergy symptoms and causes.

Food Allergy Symptoms

Food allergies affect various systems in our body. These include the nervous systems, the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system, the cardiovascular system and the skin. The most visible symptoms of common food allergies occur on the skin. These are – eczema, swelling of the lips and other parts of the face, runny nose, hives and rashes. The gastrointestinal system which is in direct contact with the food particles also shows symptoms. These are – swelling of the lips and throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal and stomach cramps.

The respiratory system can also get affected and you can notice symptoms like – asthma, wheezing as well as low level of oxygen in the body. The cardiovascular system also suffers and you will notice symptoms like irregular heat beat (dysrhythmia), a sudden thinning of the heart’s arteries (coronary artery spasms) or a heart attack (myocardial infarction). The nervous system can display symptoms like dizziness, anxiety, lack of proper muscle control or fainting. These are common food allergy symptoms in adults.

Food Allergy Causes

The food you consume contains varied quantities of proteins. Sometimes the body identifies a particular type of protein as an allergen and starts producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). The antibodies are used to neutralize the identified allergen. After the first encounter, whenever you eat food that contains the same protein (allergen) your body immediately starts producing Histamine in large quantities. This causes allergy which shows up as some form of discomfort.

Food items that contain proteins which can lead to allergy are – certain varieties of tree nuts like pecans and walnut, peanuts, egg, fish, shellfish, crab, lobsters, wheat and milk.

It is interesting to note that sometimes people may not be allergic to the food itself but the substance which is used in cooking it or preserving it. People often confuse food intolerance with food allergy as the symptoms are similar. During an allergic reaction, even a morsel of food can start the reaction. Whereas people who have food intolerance can consume a little of the food without experiencing any discomfort. Only when the body is unable to digest the food it will show food intolerance symptoms.

Some people who experience a severe allergic reaction can go into an anaphylactic shock which can lead to death. They should be immediately hospitalized as their blood pressure drops and they experience severe bronchial constriction. The above facts of food allergy symptoms and causes help in food allergy treatment for adults.