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Living with Food Allergies

Food allergies differ greatly from the more common problem of food intolerances. Food allergies have severe reactions including respiratory distress, requiring immediate emergency care. Epinephrine is given by injection when this occurs. Only about one percent of adults and three percent of children are diagnosed with food allergies.

The most common food allergies are to peanuts, other tree nuts and to shellfish. These are often the most severe. Mild reactions result in hives and sometimes migraines and severe reactions include difficulty breathing, respiratory distress and in some extreme cases can result in death if emergency care isn’t given in time.

Most people with “milk allergies” actually are intolerant and do not have an actual allergy. The intolerance actually causes upset stomach and digestive problems rather than hives and respiratory problems. There is a drastic difference in an intolerance and an allergy and in the treatment of the problem.

People with mild food allergies may be able to rotate their foods and still consume a small portion of the food they are allergic to. This is only possible when they have only experiences a rash or hives and possibly a migraine. Anyone who has had difficulty breathing should never try the food which caused respiratory distress.

For those who have a mild reaction, rotating foods so that the allergen is not consumed more than once per week is ofter permissable. This is helpful to people with multiple food allergies or allergies that are very difficult to avoid such as soy and wheat.

Because almost all processed foods contain soy, a soy allergy is very difficult to control. Rotating foods is the easiest way to avoid a build up of the allergen in your system. If you consume packaged cereal, which contains soy, one morning then you should have fresh fruits, cooked meat or other breakfast foods for the remainder of the week. Bearing in mind, a week of food rotation is seven full days and not based on the day of the week.

Other common food allergies are found in corn, tomatoes, eggs and some food dyes. Yellow food dye is actually a common allergen in patients with multiple food allergies.

For anyone with tomato allergies, it is helpful to know that the allergen is the acid in the tomato. This means fresh and raw tomatoes should be avoided. However, sauces and soups that have tomato cooked in them may not result in an allergic reaction, depending on the severity of the allergy and the concentration of the tomato product.

Anyone diagnosed with food allergies should spend two to three hours in the grocery store with a notebook. Go down each and every isle reading the labels of the foods and products you use. Write down the brands of the items that do not contain the allergens that are a problem to you. Use this list to shop by to save time in future meal and grocery planning.

Food allergies are often diagnosed with a prick test, where the allergen is inserted with a needle just under the skin. If the patient reacts to the allergen, the test is positive. However, people have been known to react to all allergens and this is often the result of a skin sensitivity that has a reaction to the prick. To check for this, water is often used as an allergen in the test.

Most patients with food allergies are prescribed an epi pen. This is a single dose of epinephrine that can be self-injected into the patients leg during an allergic reaction to avoid or respond to respiratory distress.

The most important thing to be cautious of when you are dealing with food allergies are buffets and restaurants that serve casseroles and dishes with several ingredients. You need to make sure that the food doesn’t contain an allergen or avoid the food.

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