Signs & management of food allergy
Food allergy is an abnormal immune response to certain foods, which triggers allergic reactions inside the body on exposure to it (eating these foods). The most common food allergies are allergies to the following:
- Milk and dairy products.
- Egg white.
- Wheat and soy.
- Fish, shellfish and seafood such as shrimps and crabs.
- Nuts such as almonds and peanuts.
The clinical picture of food allergy tends to have acute onset and progressive course, which develops few moments (sometimes few minutes) after ingesting the food allergen; the clinical picture consists of the following:
- Itching and skin rash.
- Swelling of tongue, lips, eye lids and face.
- Hoarseness of voice and difficulty of swallowing due to laryngeal and pharyngeal edema.
- Nasal congestion and runny nose.
- Tight chest and breathing difficulty.
- GIT symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
- Severe cases of food allergy leads to tachypnea, tachycardia and hypotension; which is called anaphylactic shock and it's an emergency life threatening condition unless it's managed quickly.
Avoiding food allergen is the main preventive measure for management of food allergy. Epinephrine (adrenaline) is the first line of treatment in cases of allergic attacks caused by food allergy; also antihistamine drugs are very helpful in alleviating symptoms-related to food allergy.