A food allergy is when the body's immune system reacts unusually to specific foods. A large proportion of people in the UK have an allergy of some kind. The allergic symptoms are very common in children but adults need to identify the signs as well. These symptoms include itching, swelling of the throat, tongue or lips, repetitive coughing, shortness of breath, weak pulse, hives, vomiting, skin rashes, and diarrhoea. The time frame of an allergic reaction can differ based on the severity.
Food allergens causing mild to severe reaction
You should take into consideration that you may get an allergy from the food that you have consumed for years. In order to sustain a happy healthy life, you need to know that there are various foods that normally cause a mild to severe allergic reaction. Several types of food that cause different reactions are termed allergens and these include milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, soybeans and fish. Some of these are consumed on a daily basis or every once in a while. Furthermore, mustard seeds and sesame seeds are thought to be the cause of some major allergies in some people.
One of the most serious reactions is anaphylaxis, which normally involves ‘more than one’ part of the body and spreads fast. It causes trouble in breathing and affects heart rate. If left untreated for an hour, it may eventually lead to death. The best medicine to use is epinephrine, which comes with an easy-to-use device known as an auto-injector.
Although allergies can be genetic, anyone can suddenly develop an allergic reaction to a particular type of food even if there is no history within their extended family.
If you suffer from a serious reaction i.e. extreme swelling, difficulty breathing or dizziness, head straight to the hospital. Allergic reactions can be fatal and should not be underestimated at any time.
The two types of food-related allergic reactions
This type of allergy occurs when you take any food similar to the one you are allergic to, e.g. if someone is allergic to carbs, they may get an allergic reaction after consuming shrimps.
Oral syndrome is an allergic reaction you get when you eat a portion of allergic food, be it in pollen or fruit.
Diagnosis of food allergies
Before attempting self-diagnosis talk to your doctor about details of the symptoms and discuss preventative measures.
A good suggestion to help the doctor pinpoint any pattern is to keep a food diary. Write down what you eat each day and try to establish a timeline of when reactions occurred, the time it took to develop, and the amount and type of food you consumed.
After the diagnosis of certain food allergies, it is preferable to stop the ingestion of that food forever. For children, allergies to eggs and milk may not prolong while some may grow stronger over time. In adults, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, and fruit are common allergens that are persistent.
It is recommended to take all food allergies seriously even if the symptoms are mild. Even non-threatening signs may lead to severe allergic reactions. There is no answer to the question of whether the allergy is long-lasting or is a one-time occurrence. It is better to regularly check with a doctor and ask for advice for future prevention.
Our Allergen Awareness course covers the following aspects:
- Examining the 14 allergens (and products that contain them)
- Food labelling standards
- The laws and legislation regarding allergen awareness
- Important definitions in relation to where food is sold and packaged
- Food allergies and allergic reactions
- Differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance
- Understanding food allergen awareness in catering
- Identify the responsibilities of the operator and the consumer
Learn how to identify allergic foods and understand how you can be sure that they can be avoided in the care environment. Find out more about allergies and nutrition with our Food Safety training courses.