Allergy Awareness Month 2019

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month!

A food allergy is an immune system response to a food protein that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. When the individual eats food containing that protein, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, triggering symptoms that can affect a person’s breathing, gastrointestinal tract, skin and/or heart.

Help to increase the awareness and education of food allergies across the country.

Food allergy is one of the leading causes of potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reactions and a growing public health concern, especially among children.

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What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune system response to a food protein that the body mistakenly believes is harmful. When the individual eats food containing that protein, the immune system releases massive amounts of chemicals, triggering symptoms that can affect a person’s breathing, gastrointestinal tract, skin and/or heart.

Signs and symptoms of food allergy can be mild, moderate or severe. An allergic reaction can include; hives, swelling of the lips, face and eyes, abdominal pain, vomiting, swelling of the tongue, swelling of the throat, breathing difficulty, persistent dizziness and/collapse. If left untreated, signs and symptoms related to breathing and heart/blood pressure can be fatal.

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What is anaphylaxis?

Food allergies can be severe, causing potentially life-threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis must be treated as a medical emergency, requiring immediate treatment and urgent medical attention.

Anaphylaxis is a generalized allergic reaction, which often involves more than one body system (e.g. skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular). A severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis always involves the respiratory and/or the cardiovascular system. An allergic reaction usually occurs within 20 minutes to two hours of eating even a small amount of the food and can rapidly become life-threatening.

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How to avoid a reaction?

Currently, there is no cure for food allergy; education is the key to good management. Avoidance of the food trigger is crucial. Individuals at risk and their careers must read food labels of every food they put to their mouth. If a product is not packaged, they must inquire about ingredients and the risk of the food coming into contact with the food they are allergic to.

Living with a food allergy is a challenge as food allergens can be hidden in foods where they are not expected. For example, cow’s milk protein can sometimes be found in orange juice and coconut drinks, tree nuts in rissoles and people forget that mayonnaise contains egg.

Food ingredient labels need to be read every time a product is purchased because recipes change without warning. If there is no label on food and you cannot access information about content, do not eat it.

Most importantly, see an allergy specialist and have your condition properly diagnosed. Everyday management means you have to be vigilant.

If you have any questions or concerns, please book an appointment with our expert’s.

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