Dr. Carla Davis from Texas Children's Hospital will join Dr. Galati to discuss food allergies.
A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. Once the immune system decides that a particular food is harmful, it creates specific antibodies to it. The next time the individual eats that food, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, including histamine, to protect the body. These chemicals trigger a cascade of allergic symptoms that can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and/or cardiovascular system. Scientists estimate that approximately 12 million Americans suffer from food allergies.
Symptoms may include one or more of the following: a tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and the throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and even death. Symptoms typically appear within minutes to two hours after the person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic
Strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to avoid a reaction. Reading ingredient labels for all foods is the key to avoiding a reaction. If a product doesn’t have a label, individuals with a food allergy should not eat that food. If you have any doubt whether a food is safe, call the manufacturer for more information.
Currently, there are no medications that cure food allergies. Strict avoidance is the only way to prevent a reaction. Many people outgrow their food allergies, although peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are often considered lifelong allergies. Research is being done in this area, and advances are being made. Click here for research information.
In Houston, efforts to raise awareness and money for food allergies in the 2008 Walk for Food Allergy: Moving Toward a Cure. For more information on the walk in Houston, click here.
Web sites of interest on Food Allergy are listed below: