The allergen is a substance capable of producing an abnormal reaction in the immune system of a person who is susceptible to it. The most common are the food allergens and on occasion you will have heard them named on countless occasions, but it is possible that you are not entirely clear, what they really are.
The food allergens they are generally harmless substances, but they are harmful and that are shown as a threat to our immune system.
These substances do not allow the proper functioning of the immune system, producing allergies and intolerances that can be really harmful to people.
By ingesting a component of a food or additive with these substances, it will cause a immune reaction. Generally, this hypersensitivity is genetically predisposed in some individuals.
The food allergen can be reduced or disappeared, when cooked or processed with modern techniques. These include high-pressure food treatments, fermentation and enzymatic treatments.
Every year, millions of people have allergic reactions to food. Although most cases are mild symptoms and of little severity, some can generate very serious reactions.
It must be remembered that there is no cure for food allergies. Therefore, it should be recognized at an early age, if you are allergic to some of them and thus prevent future consequences.
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What is the difference between allergy and intolerance?
People relate any symptoms suffered by food, as an “allergy” and this is a mistake, since, in most cases, these reactions appear more for a food intolerance.
An allergy usually reacts, at the time the food has been ingested, since it directly affects the immune system. While an intolerance, it usually takes longer to manifest, because it does not affect the immune system.
Food allergy and food intolerance are often confused, because both correspond to an alteration in the body. Allergy is generally more dangerous, due to the instantaneous and serious risks it causes, which put the lives of consumers at stake.
Vital risks of allergies
Severe food allergies can pose a life-threatening hazard to the person. After ingesting a food allergen, a person may experience a reaction called anaphylaxis. This entails the following:
- Constriction of the airways in the lungs.
- Severe decrease in blood pressure and shock.
- Asphyxia due to inflammation of the throat.
Initially mild symptoms, which occur after ingesting a food allergen, if not treated in time, can become very serious in a short period and can lead to anaphylaxis.
Most common food allergens
Although foods by their composition, can give allergic reactions, some occur more frequently than others.
There are about 160 types of food allergens, which can cause allergic reactions.
In that case, we will present food allergens short list or the most common food allergens:
- Milk: it is the most common, especially in babies. However, it is usually corrected before the age of 3.
- Eggs: they can cause serious reactions such as anaphylaxis, this being a severe allergic reaction, which affects all organs within minutes and is life-threatening.
- Fish and seafood: due to their components, they usually cause different food allergies.
- Nuts: because it is more resistant to heat, the allergy it causes is more acute.
- Peanuts/Peanuts: it is one of the foods that most triggers anaphylaxis.
- Wheat and soybeans: it is not very common to suffer an allergy to these cereals, but you can cross-react with pollen allergens.
Some children can overcome their allergies to foods, such as milk, eggs, and soy, but many others, they are lifelong, such as peanuts, nuts, fish, and shellfish.
Causes of food allergens
For a person to develop any kind of allergic reaction to a food, they must have been exposed to it before.
This is because, the allergy appears, when the organism comes into contact a second time with the allergenic food.
At that time, the person’s antibodies react to the antigen, particularly histamine, which gives rise to the appearance of the dreaded symptoms. Factors that can trigger a food allergy are:
- Hereditary factors.
- Exposure to antigens.
- Alterations in gastrointestinal permeability.
- Environmental factors.
Symptoms of food allergens
The most common, is that various symptoms are presented by food allergy, it is only a matter of minutes.
But there are cases, which can last up to 2 hours to appear, after ingesting the allergenic food. The list of symptoms is as follows:
- Redness in the skin.
- Tingling sensation.
- Itching in the mouth.
- Inflammation of the face.
- Vomiting or diarrhea.
- Abdominal cramps.
- Cough or shortness of breath.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Inflammation in the throat.
- Pressure in the chest.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Itching or swelling around the mouth.
- Stomach pain.
- Watery nose.
What should be done if symptoms appear?
The appearance of any symptom after eating a food can be a sign of an allergy to these.
Foods that cause these symptoms should be avoided and the affected person should contact a doctor or health care provider to undergo appropriate examinations and evaluation.
When a person is determined to be allergic to food, they should be taught to read labels and avoid eating a dangerous food.
In case of ingesting the food accidentally, you must learn to quickly recognize, the symptoms of an allergic reaction, having adequate knowledge and having appropriate treatment measures.
If you begin to experience any allergy symptoms, you should start treatment immediately and, if symptoms increase, go to a nearby emergency room.
What if I think I have a food allergy?
The diagnosis of food allergies should always be made by a doctor. Especially in children, it is not a good idea to eliminate food groups unnecessarily.
Currently, a specific diagnostic system, which eliminates false negatives.
In addition, it allows, with a very high probability, to detect those foods that, although the alteration they produce is minimal, we can evidence it and help us solve important health problems.