Written by: Lady Diana Somera
What Is a Food Allergy?
Food allergies happen when the immune system makes a mistake. Normally, your immune system protects you from germs and disease. It does this by making antibodies that help you fight off bacteria, viruses, and other tiny organisms that can make you sick. But if you have a food allergy, your immune system mistakenly treats something in a certain food as if it’s really dangerous to you.
Some of the first signs that a person may be having an allergic reaction could be a runny nose, an itchy skin rash such as hives, or a tingling in the tongue or lips. Other signs include:
- tightness in the throat
- hoarse voice
- stomach pain
In the most serious cases, a food allergy can cause anaphylaxis(say: ah-nuh-fuh-LAK-sis). This is a sudden, severe allergic reaction in which several problems occur all at once and can involve the skin, breathing, digestion, the heart, and blood vessels. A person’s blood pressure can drop, breathing tubes can narrow, and the tongue can swell.
People at risk for this kind of a reaction have to be very careful and need a plan for handling emergencies, when they might need to get special medicine to stop these symptoms from getting worse.
The primary way to manage a food allergy is to avoid consuming the food that causes you problems. Carefully check ingredient labels of food products, and learn whether what you need to avoid is known by other names.