A food allergy, or hypersensitivity, refers to an abnormal response to a particular food item. This response is triggered by our body’s immune system. Imagine being forced to gulp down a tall glass of milk when you feel like to vomit. That is how the condition of food intolerance gets described by many.
It is estimated that less than six percent of children who are younger than 3 years seek medical help due to food allergy. The most effective means of avoiding food allergy is to identify its true cause and eliminating it from the diet. Certain food items result in severe life-threatening allergic reaction that can limit airways in the lungs. This ultimately results in suffocation as the tongue or throat gets swelled.
In normal cases, food items do not serve as an allergen and do not evoke any response from the body’s immune system. In case of food allergies, two kinds of immune response occur. In the first phase, an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) that circulates in the blood is produced. The other phase involves a type of cell called mast cell. Mast cells are especially found in those body parts that are mostly prone to allergic reactions, such as nose, throat, lungs, skin, and gastrointestinal tract. Food allergies sometimes get inherited in families in which fever, asthma, or eczema are common.
The timing and location of an allergic reaction to a particular food item is affected by digestion. An allergic person is likely to experience severe itching of the tongue or “tingling lips” during the initial phase of the allergy. Vomiting, cramps or diarrhoea are the later symptoms. A drop in blood pressure occurs as the allergen slowly makes its way to the blood stream. However, the onset of these symptoms might vary from person to person. In some people it takes only a few minutes for the symptoms to be manifested where as in some others it might take a couple of hours after the food intake.