What Are Food Allergens?
Allergies are a condition that occurs when the body’s immune system sees a substance such as a particular food as a harmful “invader” and overreacts to it. The substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens, which are what trigger an immune response, also called an allergic reaction.
What Are Symptoms of Food Allergies?
Symptoms of food allergies usually occur within minutes of eating a particular trigger food, and may include:
- Hives or red, itchy skin
- Stuffy or itchy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Stomach cramps
- Angioedema or swelling
- Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, is a medical emergency. If you experience any of the following symptoms call 911 and get to a hospital’s emergency department.
- Tightness in the throat or a lump in the throat
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty breathing
- Tingling in the hands, feet, lips, or scalp
How Are Food Allergies Diagnosed?
Allergies are diagnosed starting with a medical history and physical exam.
Tests used to diagnose food allergies may include:
- Skin prick food allergy test
- Blood tests (specific IgE, ImmunoCAP test)
- Physician-supervised oral food challenge tests
What Is the Treatment for Food Allergies?
The main treatment for food allergies is to avoid the foods that trigger an allergic reaction.
For mild allergic reactions, antihistamines may relieve symptoms.
For those who have severe food allergies and may be prone to anaphylaxis, a doctor will likely prescribe auto-injectable epinephrine to carry at all times in the case of an anaphylactic reaction.