Our Foodfacts.com editors discovered an interesting article in Tehturbruk.com that merits attention.
The article points out that food allergies occur when your immune system makes a mistake. Normally, your immune system protects you from germs and disease. It does this by making antibodies that help you fight off bacteria, viruses, and other tiny organisms that can make you sick. But if you have a food allergy or egg allergy, your immune system mistakenly treats something in a certain food as if it’s really dangerous to you. The same sort of thing happens with any allergy, whether it’s a medicine (like penicillin), pollen in the air (from flowers and trees), or a food, like peanuts. So the thing itself isn’t harmful, but the way your body reacts to it is. The histamine then causes symptoms that affect a person’s eyes, nose, throat, respiratory system, skin, and digestive system. A person with a food allergy could have a mild reaction — or it could be more severe. An allergic reaction could happen right away or a few hours after the person eats it. Some of the first signs that a person may be having an allergic reaction could be a runny nose, an itchy skin rash such as hives, or a tingling in the tongue or lips.
If you think you may be allergic to a certain food, go to the doctor to get it checked out. If your doctor thinks you might have a food allergy, he or she will probably send you to see a doctor who specializes in allergies. The allergy specialist will ask you about past reactions and how long it takes between eating the food and getting the symptom, such as hives. The allergist also may ask about whether anyone else in your family has allergies or other allergy-related conditions, such as eczema or asthma. The allergist may also want to do a skin test. This is a way of seeing how your body reacts to a very small amount of the food that is giving you trouble. The allergist will use a liquid extract of the food and, possibly, other common allergy-causing foods to see if you react to any of them. (A liquid extract is a liquid version of something that usually isn’t liquid) The doctor will make a little scratch on your skin (it will be a quick pinch!) and drop a little of the liquid extract on the scratched spot or spots. Different extracts will go on the different scratch spots, so the doctor can see how your skin reacts to each substance. If you get a reddish, raised spot, it shows that you are allergic to that food or substance. Some doctors may also take a blood sample and send it to a lab. That’s where it will be mixed with some of the food or substance you may be allergic to and checked for certain antibodies.
It’s important to remember that even though the doctor tests for food allergies by exposing you to a very small amount of the food, you should not try this at home. The best place for an allergy test is at the doctor’s office, where they are specially trained and could give you medicine right away if you had a serious reaction.