Reducing Your Risk of Food Allergen Exposures

What is a Food Allergy?

When your immune system reacts to a food ingredient, it triggers the release of chemicals, such as histamine, from cells in the body. This release of chemicals is what is known as anallergic reaction, which is your body’s attempt at protecting you against a certain food or ingredient. A food allergy differs fromfood poisoning in that the latter involves a patient eating food that is contaminated with harmful bacteria.

A food allergy is different from food intolerance. In the case of an intolerance, the immune system is not usually involved and symptoms take much longer to develop. Food allergies can be life-threatening, unlike food intolerance.

Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

The most common and mild signs of a food allergy include:
  • Rash, itching, or reddening of the skin
  • Sneezing or watery eyes

  • Swelling of the eyes or lips

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting

  • Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting

Of these symptoms, the most serious food allergy condition is anaphylaxis, which is a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction. It can cause swelling of the throat, wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment by adrenaline injection followed by expert medical assistance.

Common Food Allergens

As defined by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), a major food allergen is defined as an ingredient derived from or one of the following foods or food groups. These foods account for over90 percent of all food allergies in the United States:

  • Milk (and dairy products)

  • Eggs

  • Peanuts

  • Soybeans

  • Wheat

  • Fish and shellfish, such as crab, lobster, and shrimp

  • Tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, and pecans

Reducing Your Risks

It can be tricky to manage everyday life with a food allergy, but the key is being proactive. Here are a few of ourtop suggestions:

Check FDA Public Labelings

Processing plants make many different products which include the use of one or more major allergens. For this reason, the FDA has stated that manufacturers must label their products correctly to alert the consumer of possible cross-contact. Warnings may appear as the following:


Choose Dining Options Carefully

If you’re purchasing food fresh, ask a clerk or waiter if their establishment may use a food allergen you are sensitive to in any cooking. You should always alert your server to your allergy.

Always Carry an EpiPen

AnEpiPen is an auto-injector device that contains epinephrine (adrenaline) and is available by prescription to treat food allergy reactions. If you feel you may require an EpiPen, speak with your doctor to obtain a prescription.

Other Suggestions:

  • Wear a medical bracelet.

  • Wash your hands before and after eating.

  • Forchildren, be sure that ingredients in school cafeterias and classrooms are clearly identified.

  • Visit your allergist regularly.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

If you believe you are having an allergic reaction, it’s imperative that you seek medical attention immediately. AtUrgentology Care, our compassionate and knowledgeable team will evaluate and treat your allergy symptoms right away.Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

If you feel that you are having a serious allergic reaction please call 911 immediately.

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