What is direct food allergy?

It is the appearance of allergy symptoms after consuming a certain food as a result of an abnormal response of the immune system which deals with such food as being a foreign harmful substance. In some cases, symptoms are triggered by touching, or inhaling this food. Symptoms usually occur during the first two hours of consumption.

All types of foods may cause allergy when consumed, but the most common foods include:

  • • Milk and foods containing milk such as ice cream or butter (i.e. dairy products)
  • eggs
  • Wheat
  • Tree nuts, such as almonds or cashews
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish (crustaceans), such as shrimp or oysters.

A person may be allergic to one or more types of food. Sometimes, it is difficult to know if a person really suffers a food allergy, as some people may experience symptoms after consuming certain foods for reasons other than allergy. For example, a person may feel heartburn after eating spicy foods, or diarrhea after drinking milk due to difficulty of digesting lactose in milk. These cases are not considered food allergies.

What are the symptoms of food allergy?

Symptoms of food allergy may range from mild to severe, and may include:

Mild symptoms:

  • Rash. In the form of red spots in the skin, accompanied by severe itching.
  • Swelling of the skin.
  • Swelling and redness of the eye accompanied by itching.
  • Runny nose, or sneezing.

Severe symptoms, also called «anaphylaxis», may include:

  • Swelling of the throat, or excessive coughing.
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Dizziness or faint
  • In some cases, patients may suffer an acute hypotension, and death may occur.

Are there any food allergy tests?

Yes, and they are conducted for foods triggering symptoms or foods of similar composition.

Skin Test:

A drop of the food causing symptoms is placed on the skin of the patient, and then the skin is pricked to allow food to reach the internal tissues. After 15-20 minutes, the reaction on the skin is recorded.

Blood Test:

In this test, the antibodies produced by the immune system as a response to the allergen are checked to verify whether they are found.

Treatment

A clear plan shall be prepared to avoid allergenic foods, as follows:

  • Reading the entire ingredient label of foods carefully.
  • Informing wait staff of restaurants, and the like, about having a food allergy when eating out.
  • Washing cooking utensils used in preparation of allergenic foods thoroughly and carefully before using them again.
  • Informing all family members about having a food allergy, especially if the patient is a child.
  • Informing the school.
  • The patient should carry a card indicating that he is allergic to certain foods.
  • If a person has severe allergic reactions to food (anaphylaxis), his doctor shall prescribe (EPIPEN), a self-injection device in the form of a pen containing adrenaline effective for controlling the symptoms of anaphylaxis. A patient shall always carry this device with him to use it by himself or by anyone else in case of symptoms indicating anaphylaxis.
  • In case of minor skin symptoms, antihistamines may be useful to control the rash and itching.