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How to Know if You Have Food Allergies

At times, people can find it difficult to identify the root of the symptoms they are experiencing. Be it itchy skin, watery eyes or a swollen throat, any number of symptoms can be pointing towards a food allergy. That said, there are also a number of other possible causes for these symptoms, begging the question: how is one supposed to identify when the are having an allergic reaction?

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What is a Food Allergy?

Before attempting to self-diagnose your symptoms, it is a good idea to gain a clear understanding about what a food allergy really is. A food allergy is an occurrence in which the body’s immune system sees a specific food as an invader and as a result begins to attack. This reaction can result in the release of certain chemicals into the body and trigger the symptoms that are so often associated with allergic reactions, e.g. trouble breathing and itchy hives.

                Additionally, an allergic reaction is an immediate reaction to the exposure of a certain food – for certain individuals (those that have airborne allergies) this can be as small as breathing in the same air as the food.

Most Common Food Allergies

If you are worried that you, or someone you love, may have food allergies, it is important to know the most commonly found allergies in the world. Often referred to as the “Top 8” these eight food allergies affect millions of people in the US alone.

  • Cow’s Milk - While many people will outgrow this allergy, it is still amongst the most common childhood allergies. For those dealing with an allergy to cow’s milk, the only treatment is to avoid the product altogether (including dairy products made with cow’s milks, e.g. cheese, yogurt, butter, etc.)
  • Eggs – Egg allergies are also amongst the most popular allergies found in children and can oftentimes be outgrown. Moreover, as a result of the different proteins found in egg whites and egg yolks, it is common to find people only allergic to one part of the egg. And while most professionals recommend an egg free diet for those diagnosed with an egg allergy, there are cases in which cooking the egg can change it enough that the body no longer see’s the food as harmful.
  • Tree Nuts – Tree nuts are amongst the most popular allergies in the world and can oftentimes result in severe reactions. Given this, individuals who are allergic to one tree nut are often advised to keep away from all forms of tree nuts as well as all tree nut products.
  • Peanuts – While many people assume peanuts are a tree nut, the two forms of nuts actually have no relation to each other. Meaning, that one can and often will have one allergy without the other. That said the risks and treatments for the two allergies remain the same. Peanuts can result in severe, life threatening, allergic reactions and should thus be avoided completely by those who deal with the allergy.
  • Shellfish – As a result of the severe reaction to contaminated seafood, shellfish allergies are amongst the most difficult to diagnose. That said, however, once the allergy is diagnosed the recommended treatment is simply avoiding the food altogether. Additionally, given the protein makeup of shellfish, as well as the strong smell, many people with this allergy also have airborne reactions.
  • Wheat – Similar to milk and eggs, wheat is also an allergy that is often outgrown in early childhood. However, for those who do not outgrow the allergy, the only viable option is complete avoidance of the food.
  • Soy – Given the growing popularity of soy products, a soy allergy is amongst the most difficult allergies to have. However, despite the annoyance of having to constantly read labels, the only real treatment option is the removal of soy from your diet.
  • Fish – Similar to shellfish, a fish allergy can sometimes be confused for the consumption of contaminated fish. However, the two foods are not similar in their makeup and are therefore not found to necessarily come together. Again, the fish allergy – similar to the other in the Top 8 - can cause severe reactions and thus should be completely removed from your diet.

What is a Food Intolerance or Sensitivity?

While these two terms are often clustered together with food allergies, they are actually completely different happenings. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “Food intolerances involve the digestive system. Food allergies involve the immune system.” While this difference may not sound significant to the untrained ear, it is the difference between digestive issues and possible anaphylaxis.

                In other words, those that deal with food intolerances or sensitivities may find themselves with pain and discomfort as a result of their body failing to digest the food they have eaten, but they are not at risk for an anaphylactic reaction.

What to Do if You Think You Have a Food Allergy

Food Allergies are not something to be taken lightly. The reactions caused by allergies can be potentially life threatening and should be treated with such regard. Naturally, given the possible severity of the situation, the first thing to do once you suspect you or someone you love may be having an allergic reaction is to reach out to a doctor.

                Attempting to diagnose an allergy on your own can have dangerous repercussions and should not be done. Not only will you likely end up depriving yourself of foods you aren’t allergic to, but you may also end up accidentally eating food that you are allergic to. Medical professionals rely on years of schooling and training in order to understand different reactions and symptoms, and still doctors utilize impressive medical testing in order to diagnose food allergies.

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Conclusion

Food allergies have become a very real part of most people’s lives, with most individuals knowing someone with an allergy or dealing with one themselves. That said, food allergies can oftentimes have severe reactions and should be treated as such. When dealing with such dangerous stakes, make sure to always notify a doctor of what you are experiencing.

 

 Sources

Living With Food Allergies
Allergies Over the Holidays
 

What Our Clients Say

Meticulous in their preparations

During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.

 After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.

 Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.

 We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.

T.M., Chicago, USA

Comfortable, calm, and at ease

We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!

We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.

My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!

It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)

We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!! 

CO, Canada
April 2016

Very Helpful

Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.

Yasher Koach!
L.R., NY, NY

Delicious and Safe

Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel.  We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!

All the best,

S.C., New Jersey

Thank You

We can't thank you enough for assembling this top-notch team of specialists to work with our daughter while she is in Israel.

T.G., Philadelphia, PA

The Allergy Card was Extremely Helpful

"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew.  The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”

G.A. Illinois USA

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