Currently, one in 5 people have some sort of allergy. Food allergies are most common in children, and are most commonly linked with eczema, another allergic condition. In severe cases, reactions to food allergies can trigger potentially life threatening anaphylaxis.
Cases of peanut allergies have doubled in the last five years, and allergic conditions in children have shown an enormous increase over the last 10 years. It is predicted that the number of people with allergies will rise by 70% over the next 40 years.
And yet some people still regard allergies as trivial. This is not the case. Not only can allergic reactions be lethal, but they are costing billions of dollars in related health care. As the population with allergies increases, so does the severity of the disease, with allergy specialists in such demand that waiting lists are more than 6 months long for consultations.
The most common food allergens are egg, soy, peanut, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish and gluten. You may be surprised to know that for people with chronic food allergies, it only takes tiny amounts of the food in question, no bigger than a pinhead, to provoke a severe allergic reaction.
Common symptoms of food allergies include:
Red Rashes around the mouth where the food has come into contact with the skin
Skin rashes on other parts of the body, hives, swelling, vomiting, wheezing or other breathing problems, and fainting. The face, mouth and eyes can swell considerably, with hives forming sizeable, s spreading welts.
Symptoms in babies also include noisy breathing, loose stools, severe eczema and poor growth patterns.
Anaphylaxis is the most serious reaction to food allergens, and requires urgent medical treatment, typically with the immediate injection of adrenaline into the body via an epi-pen.
So, why are allergies on the rise? One theory is that in today's society we are simply too clean. Early exposure to germs and infections can be vital to train the body's immune system to fight foreign threats. Failure to expose young children to germs and bugs can result in their immune systems becoming over reactive as they grow up. Over reactive immune systems can trigger otherwise harmless substances such as pollen, dust mites, mould, animal hair and some food proteins to produce proteins known as IgE antibodies, sending antibodies against these proposed threats all through the bloodstream. Certain cells in the body respond these antibodies by generating chemical reactions, including a chemical substance called Histamine. It is Histamine that causes the rashes, runny eyes and sneezing that we associate with allergies.
And this condition becomes part of the gene pool, resulting in the dramatic increase in the population of allergy sufferers that we are seeing today. The predisposition towards allergies has been found to be inherited. There is almost always someone in the allergenic person's family with allergic conditions such as asthma or eczema.
If you think that yourself or your child may have a food allergy, the best course of action is to see a medical professional for a skin or blood test. If this test confirms a food allergy, the offending food types must be removed from the diet, with special care to maintain well balanced nutrition in the absence of these food groups.
For more resources go to http://www.theallergymenu.com where you will find recipes for people with food allergies and expert help and tips to make living with allergies a breeze! The Allergy Menu is the Ultimate FREE online resource for people with allergies - take a look!