In recent years, food allergies have become almost epidemic – about 8% of children and 1 to 3% of adults are affected by it. And the saddest thing is that these numbers are growing. This condition is far from harmless: it not only brings discomfort, and sometimes suffering, but can become deadly and cause the death of the patient.
An allergy to food is a condition that is characterized by an inadequate response to a certain benign product. It is based on the incorrect response of the immune system to a specific substance – an allergen.
What causes allergies
Among the factors contributing to the development of this condition, the following are distinguished.
Hereditary predisposition. Children whose parents suffer from this disease are much more likely to suffer from allergies. Moreover, the child may have increased sensitivity to a completely much more likely than his mother or father. And then these children will pass on the tendency to food allergies to their children.
Cesarean section. Children born with this surgery often suffer from food allergies.
Reducing the period of breastfeeding and early transition to complementary foods. This is due to the fact that breast milk contains substances that protect the baby from the action of antigens. With the introduction of complementary foods, the child encounters potentially dangerous allergens that are present in the products.
Antibiotic treatment of a child up to a year. From birth, the baby’s immune system is formed, especially intensively – from birth to a year. When using antibiotics, a malfunction in this process is possible, and then in the future the child will develop an allergy.
Nutritional supplements. Today, the food we eat is generously flavored with various additives. Giving such products to the baby, one must understand that these supplements for the body are foreign and the immune system can reject them.
Hygiene is too thorough, however paradoxical it sounds. The fact is that immunity, in order to work well, must constantly “train” to distinguish between different antigens. Only in this way does the body produce a normal response to danger. If little antigens enter the body, the immune system is forced to act against harmless substances.
When we try a new product for the first time, foreign substances – antigens – enter our bloodstream. In response, the immune system synthesizes special proteins – class A immunoglobulins. They “remember” new substances, and when we eat the same food again, the immune system recognizes it and does not react in any way.
But sometimes a malfunction occurs and immunoglobulins of another class are produced – E. They also “remember” new antigens, but as dangerous substances that must be destroyed. This is the so-called primary sensitization. And the next time a “dangerous” product enters the body, immunoglobulin E gives the command to produce histamine, a biologically active substance that causes an allergic reaction. Then the very symptoms of allergy appear that give us so much trouble and suffering. Therefore, an allergic reaction occurs only with a secondary and subsequent exposure of the allergen to the body.
Food allergy should be distinguished from intolerance to one or another product, which can manifest itself with the same symptoms, but the mechanism of its development is completely different – for one reason or another, some product is simply not absorbed by the body.
Manifestations of food allergies
Food allergies can manifest themselves in completely different ways:
urticaria – rashes appear on the skin, similar to traces of a nettle burn, which, as a rule, also itch;
allergic rhinitis – colorless discharge oozes from the nose, the mucous membrane of the nose swells;
allergic conjunctivitis – eyes turn red, itch, tears flow from them;
allergic bronchitis – cough, shortness of breath occurs, breathing becomes difficult;
allergic enterocolitis – manifested by sharp or stitching pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, bloating;
Severe symptoms of a food allergy include:
Quincke’s edema – a person feels that his tongue, lips, palate are swollen. It becomes difficult to breathe and swallow, shortness of breath, cough. The face first turns red, then turns pale;
severe hypotension – manifested by weakness and dizziness, possibly impaired vision.
These conditions are deadly, and the patient needs immediate medical attention.
The most common allergen products
There are a lot of products that can cause allergies. Today, doctors counted them about 180. But most often, allergies occur:
Beans, fruits and berries, cabbage, that is, the most common products, can be dangerous for those suffering from food allergies. Moreover, a microscopic dose of the allergen can provoke an allergic reaction. So, when there is an allergy to eggs, so that it manifests itself, it is not at all necessary to eat fried eggs from three eggs, a piece of cake will be enough, during the preparation of which an egg is placed in the dough.