What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is when a body’s immune system reacts to a specific food or nutrient. Initially, the reaction can be mild but it could be severe in later stages which then can lead to complications in the body. 

As per a recent survey conducted by Center of Disease Control & Prevention” (CDC) in United States, food allergies affect 6 to 8% of kids under 3 and up to 4% in adults.

What are signs & symptoms of a food allergy?

Symptoms of food allergy are almost common in both adults and children. You cannot consider a food, which you have eaten a year ago, safe. The same food if consumed again can still cause food allergy. When the allergens are intermingled with blood stream, they cause the following symptoms:

  • Itching 
  • Swollen lips, tongue and mouth
  • Burning or pain in stomach
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Asthma 

How food allergy is diagnosed?

Food allergy can be diagnosed by drawing out blood and sending it for testing against different food substances. Levels of IgE immunoglobulin (antibody) are measured in response to each substance tested and it plays a vital role in food allergy prevention.

Food Allergy Management

  • Read food labels

Reading food labels carefully is an obvious way to prevent yourself from food to which you are prone to be affected. Children with food allergies should stay away from food products with these labels to prevent a severe allergic reaction. Ingredients must be checked thoroughly.

  • Aware of your  kid’s symptoms

It is necessary that you should be aware of your kid’s signs and symptoms from allergic reaction. Knowing these you can easily assess yourself and seek medical help in case of any emergency.

  • Dining out

Be extra careful if you are eating out. Waiters do not know much about the ingredients of the food you are ordering. So, it is better to ask the kitchen staff about ingredients. 

  • Kitchen & equipments 

Your kitchen and tools that you are using to prepare food must be clean and sterilized.

  • Medical alert bracelets 

Always wear bracelets mentioning the substances you are allergic to.

  • Medication

Medication as prescribed by the physician. These could include both curative and preventive medicines.

NEW USDA Guidelines on Preventing Food Allergies

Recently published USDA guidelines recommend introducing allergens to help give your baby a healthy start. Learn more about these new guidelines below. 

  • Introduction of allergic food to infants

An infant must be introduced to allergic food such as peanuts, cow milk, wheat, nuts etc. This must be given with infant’s diet. However, if a child has allergic reactions then appropriate measurements must be taken to avoid any serious allergy. 

  • Feed Infants human milk till 6 months 

According to the USDA 2020 Dietary Guidelines, a newborn must be given mother feed at least till the age of 6 months. This can reduce the chance of allergy a kid may acquire from cow milk.

  • Variety of foods

It is encouraged that parents should introduce infants to variety of foods from all food groups for a healthy nutrition. An average of 8 to 10 foods must be tried to infant so that he can accept the most suitable new type of food. This will help encourage healthy eating.