A food allergy results when a food is consumed and mistaken by the body to be something harmful, which causes the immune system to respond and attack. This negative immune response causes unwanted signs and symptoms such as hives, GI issues, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases anaphylaxis. In anaphylaxis, the airway begins to close and blood pressure drops which can be life threatening. In these cases, medical attention is required and necessary for treatment.
For many individuals, food allergies are discovered early in childhood. Food allergies can be diagnosed and managed with the help of an interdisciplinary team including a physician, allergy specialist, and registered dietitian, who will interpret labs and past food and medical history.
The most common allergens in the United States are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, fish and shellfish. The FDA has required that all labels must list allergens on any food packaging in the U.S.
How Can You Prevent an Allergic Reaction?
Accidents happen. Individuals who are at risk of anaphylaxis need to take extra precautions to ensure food safety. Here are some tips to cope with a food allergy:
- Read food labels
- Avoid cross contamination
- Make your allergies known when dining out
- Inform your friends and family of your allergy
- Know your symptoms
- Carry an epi-pen
- Have an emergency plan
- Prepare meals at home and limit processed foods
If you are struggling with managing a food allergy, contact our office to schedule a consultation with a registered dietitian. You can learn more about food allergies by visiting the AZ Dietitians blog, where you will find articles on gluten allergies and Celiac disease, and more in depth information on allergy testing.
Written by: Lexi Nazzaro, Dietetic Intern
Sources: Information adapted from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Food & Nutrition Magazine (Volume 9, Issue 2)