Allergy: a disorder in which the body becomes hypersensitive to particular antigens (called allergens), which provoke characteristic symptoms whenever they are subsequently inhaled, ingested, injected, or otherwise contacted. Normally antibodies in the bloodstream and tissues react with and destroy specific antigens without further trouble. In an allergic person, however, the allergens provoke the release of a class of antibodies (IgE) that become bound to mast cells in the body’s tissues. The subsequent reaction of allergen with tissue-bound antibody also leads, as a side-effect, to cell damage, release of histamine and serotonin (5 hydroxytryptamine), inflammation, and all the symptoms of the particular allergy. Different allergies afflict different tissues and may have either local or general effects, varying from asthma and hay fever to severe dermatitis to gastroenteritis or extremely serious shock (see
anaphylaxis).’ The 1998 Second Edition of the Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary:
An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to any substance that is normally harmless. It is the body’s way of dealing with something seen as a foreign substance, an invader. It is possible to be allergic to anything, both natural and synthetic. First time exposure to an allergen (an antigen that causes allergy in a hypersensitive person) will probably only produce a mild reaction and may not be noticed by the person. Second and subsequent exposures will produce more and more reactions and the person becomes sensitised to the allergen. Many conditions are the result of an allergy, for instance, eczema is a mucous condition of the skin and, in very young children, often results from intolerance to dairy products.
It is estimated that one in every three people in the United Kingdom will suffer from allergies at sometime in their lives, this number increases every year.
Food allergies may have severe and life-threatening reactions. The most common allergens are cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish & shellfish,and tree nuts. These are just some of the factors; there are also many environmental and chemical pollutants we are surrounded by them e.g. strong detergents, sprays, which all affect our immunity some may get affected more than others.
Many people today find that they suffer from an allergy or intolerance to foods, additives or substances in their environment. Our diets are no longer of only fresh wholesome foods, they have been genetically and artificially engineered and become unnatural and foreign to our bodies, and cause ill health.
Many different foods can cause allergic reactions. Allergic reactions to foods may be severe and sometimes include an anaphylactic reaction. Food allergies may start during infancy. They are most common among children whose parents have food allergies, allergic rhinitis, or allergic asthma. Infants and young children with food allergies tend to be allergic to the most common allergic triggers (allergens), such as those in eggs, milk, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. Food allergies are commonly triggered by certain nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, wheat, and soybeans.
Symptoms of Allergic reactions
Symptoms vary by age and may include rashes, wheezing, a runny nose, and, occasionally in adults, more serious symptoms. Food allergies are sometimes blamed for such disorders as hyperactivity in children, chronic fatigue, arthritis, poor athletic performance, and depression. To date these associations have not been substantiated.
Some reactions to food are not an allergic reaction. For example, food intolerance differs from a food allergy because it does not involve the immune system. Instead, it involves a reaction in the digestive tract that results in digestive upset. For example, some people lack an enzyme necessary for digesting the sugar in milk (lactose). Other reactions to a food may result from contamination or deterioration of the food. When someone has intolerance to a food rather than an allergy the reactions are different.
The food can be eaten quite regularly often over a period of time without any reactions occurring. The next time they eat it a reaction develops. The body is tolerating the food, but only up to a certain level, then reaction kicks in. Think of a bottle standing under a dripping tap, the bottle gradually fills with water and then overflows..
Reaction cause by food additives
In some people, food additives can cause a reaction that resembles, but is not, an allergic reaction. For example, monosodium glutamate (MSG), some preservatives, and food dyes can cause symptoms such as asthma and hives. Similarly, eating certain foods, such as cheese, wine, and chocolate, triggers migraine headaches in some people.
Symptom of a food allergy in infants
These are some symptoms In infants, the first symptom of a food allergy may be a rash such as eczema (atopic dermatitis) or a rash that resembles hives. The rash may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. By about age 1 year, the rash tends to develop less often, but children may wheeze, feel short of breath, or get a runny nose when they eat the food that triggers their allergy. By about age 10, food allergies – most commonly to milk and less commonly to eggs and peanuts –tend to subside. Allergies to airborne substances, such as allergic asthma and hay fever, may develop as food allergies subside.
Food allergies in adults
In adults some symptoms of food allergies cause itching in the mouth, hives, eczema and occasionally, a runny nose and asthma. For some adults with a food allergy eating a tiny amount of the food may trigger a severe reaction. A rash may cover the entire body, the throat may swell, and the airways may narrow making breathing difficult. Occasionally, this reaction is severe and becomes life threatening.