Food allergies are one of the most common chronic conditions. In fact, up to 15 million Americans suffer from some kind of food allergy. Many believe food allergies only develop during the adolescent stage—but food allergies can develop at any stage of our life. If you suspect you’re suffering from a food allergy, try these treatment and prevention methods.
What Causes a Food Allergy?
A food allergy is the result of your immune system reacting to a certain protein in food. The most common types of food allergies are:
- Peanuts/tree nuts
- Wheat (otherwise known as a gluten allergy)
Each body is different, therefore each person will react differently to various foods. For most people, individual reactions range from mild to moderate. Common reactions include:
- Stomach cramps
- Hives or rash
However, if you are experiencing severe reactions such as having trouble breathing or swallowing, seek medical attention by calling 911 right away.
Try Over the Counter Medicine
If you are experiencing mild symptoms, try using an over the counter medicine first. Depending on your symptoms, the types of non-prescription medicine needed will vary. If you are experiencing anything related to an upset stomach, try using an antacid such as Pepto-Bismol or Tums. If you are experiencing rash or hives, look for an antihistamine like Benadryl. Most over the counter medicine can relieve symptoms within a few hours, but may take up to 24 hours.
Keep a Food Journal
Chances are high that you’re eating a combination of different ingredients at meal time. So, when you first have a reaction, it may be difficult to pinpoint the source right away. One way to track this is to start a food journal. Each day, write down every meal and the ingredients used. Then if you have a reaction, mark that particular meal. From there, look for any patterns in your diet that may be triggering the reaction. For example: If you notice you are experiencing a rash after eating carrots, then you may be having an allergic reaction to them. If you suspect a certain food is the culprit, avoid it for the time being until you see a medical professional.
See a Dietitian or Allergist
After compiling your food journal, bring it to a dietitian or allergist to review. These types of physicians are qualified to diagnose allergies through a series of tests. They also can help build a recovery and prevention plan, which may include prescribing antihistamines or steroids.
Thankfully, there are plenty of treatment option available to those who suffer from a food allergy. If at any point you experience an allergic reaction, schedule an appointment at our Community Health Center on 5th Street. Our medical professionals will treat your symptoms and direct you to any health resources you need.