What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an allergic reaction to a particular food that is often caused by the protein in that food. Essentially our immune system identifies the protein as harmful and will do what it can to fight it.

An antibody known as IgE is created to neutralise the threat, however if the same food is eaten again the antibodies that were created previously may trigger other chemicals to be released such as histamine.

Histamine is often released in normal circumstances to support our immune systems but for some reason when released in conjunction with IgE antibodies it sets off an allergic reaction in people who are hypersensitive to particular food proteins. This is why you can eat a particular food one day but then the next time you consume it you have an allergic reaction.

Food allergy symptoms include; itching, hives, swelling of throat, eyes or tongue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, fainting and even cardiac arrest.

Common foods that are implicated in allergic reactions include; milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, peanuts, soybeans, tree nuts, and wheat. Genetics do seem to play an important role in allergic reactions, however it is not uncommon for a child to grow out allergies.

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