Food allergies are quite common. It is estimated that approximately 5% of adults and 8% of children suffer from at least one of these conditions, and it seems to be a continually rising figure in our time.
Contrary to what is usually believed, there is no standard age in which an allergy of this type appears: although it is more frequent to appear in the first years of life, even an adult could develop them, so it is necessary to be alert.
Of the most common types of food allergy, there are five that originate from ingesting popular consumer products, and that we should know about.
What is a food allergy?
It is known as food allergy to a condition in which the immune system emits an excessive protective response to the proteins of certain foods: the body interprets these substances as threats and its response is to send defense signals.
When a food that causes allergy is consumed, the body releases defense hormones such as histamine, whose side effects can be inflammation and the like. These effects are very common in the early stages of development, especially in children.
These are the main symptoms of food allergy:
- Inflammation in the tongue, mouth or face.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Low blood pressure.
- Threw up.
Also, food allergies can also be divided into two types, among which release an antibody related to histamine and is known as IgE (immunoglobulin E) and those who do not release. The most dangerous type is that of allergies that release IgE, which can eventually cause anaphylaxis, a reaction of hypersensitivity to certain substances that can become fatal.
The 5 most common types of food allergies
1.Allergy to cow’s milk
The allergy to cow’s milk is a very common food allergy and probably the first one that is experienced, since it is usually detected mainly in neonates who consume cow’s milk before reaching six months of age.
Currently it is believed that between 2% and 3% of babies experience this allergy, although normally 90% of them overcome this condition when they reach three years.
This type of allergy usually develops IgE and IgE-free responses, so it is necessary to be cautious if a baby is suspected of having it.
If a person is diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy, the only possible treatment is to eliminate her and her diet derivatives, including:
- Cow milk.
- Milk powder.
- Milk cream.
- Ice creams.
If a mother breastfeeds her child and he has an allergy to cow’s milk, it is necessary that she also eliminate these products from her diet.
Eggs are the second most common cause of allergy in children, although 68% of them overcome it with adolescence.
Some symptoms of egg allergy include:
- Digestive discomfort, such as stomach pain.
- Skin reactions, such as hives and itching.
- Respiratory problems.
- Anaphylaxis (in rare cases).
Something very curious is that many people are usually allergic to only a part of the egg, that is to say: there are those who are allergic to the clear ones, but not to the yolks, and vice versa. The clear allergy is usually the most dangerous.
On the other hand, some studies have indicated that 70% of people allergic to eggs can tolerate them when they are consumed under preparation methods in which the egg parts are mixed with each other and with other substances, as in the case of the poncetes. Apparently mixing the egg makes the immune system interpret it less as a threat, although it is better not to take risks and request medical examinations in any case.
3.Allergy to nuts like walnut
The allergy to nuts like nuts and others that come from trees is quite common, being the most dangerous fruits some like:
- Brazil nuts.
- Cashew nuts
People who are allergic to these foods also tend to be allergic to its derivatives such as oils and nut butters.
This type of allergy should be treated with special care, as it is believed that it is related to 50% of deaths from anaphylaxis, which is recommended to those who suffer always carry an epinephrine auto-injector.
Due to its effects and similarities, peanut allergy can be considered analogous to nut allergy, although peanuts are really a legume.
Although the reasons why peanut allergy occurs are unknown, it is estimated that the risk of suffering from peanut allergy increases through heredity, especially if one of the parents is allergic.
It is a common allergy at any age, affecting approximately 4% to 8% of children and 1% and 2% of adults.
As with other allergies, the only treatment for peanut allergy is to avoid its consumption, as well as the intake of its derivatives.
5.Allergy to seafood
Under the name of shellfish allergy is included the severe immune responses presented after the consumption of molluscs and crustaceans such as:
This type of allergy is triggered mainly by a protein called tropomyosin and that is present in most seafood. There are also other conflicting proteins such as kinase or light chain myosin.
The symptoms of shellfish allergy usually present very quickly after consuming the product, and are related to reactions with IgE.
Again, the only treatment for shellfish allergy is to avoid its consumption, and it is hardly an allergy that is overcome over time.
How to detect if you have a food allergy?
If in the past you have experienced adverse symptoms before certain foods, and you want to know if it is a slight intolerance or an allergenic response of the immune system, it is best to go to the doctor to do any of the following reviews:
- Dietary reviews: a detailed review of the foods consumed the effects they produce and the time they take to appear.
- Skin prick test: Inject a small amount of food suspected of causing allergy and monitor its effects.
- Food challenges: consume in a supervised environment increasingly large amounts of suspect food to determine its effects.
- Blood tests: in some circumstances, blood can be drawn to measure IgE levels.