If you have a food allergy, your body is reacting to a protein that it mistakenly believes is harmful. As a result, your immune system creates antibodies to that protein. When you eat the food that contains the protein, these antibodies can release a number of chemicals, such as histamine, which can cause an allergic reaction. Most food allergies are caused by proteins in milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Allergic reactions to these foods can range from mild (such as a skin rash) to severe (anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening).
If you think you have a food allergy, see an allergist. He or she can perform skin and blood tests to find out what you’re allergic to. Once you know what you’re allergic to, you can take steps to avoid that food and stay healthy. If you have a food allergy, it’s important to:
• Read food labels carefully. Manufacturers are required by law to list the top 8 allergens on food labels.
• Carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times. If you have a severe reaction, you’ll need to injected with epinephrine.
• Tell your friends, family, and co-workers about your allergy. They should know how to use your epinephrine auto-injector, and they should know where it is at all times.
• Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that says you have a food allergy.
• Avoid sharing food with others, and don’t eat food that you don’t know what is in it.
• Wash your hands after eating, and before eating, to avoid cross-contamination.
• Keep a safe distance from people who are eating the food you’re allergic to.
• Be prepared for a reaction by always carrying your epinephrine auto-injector with you. If you have a severe reaction, inject yourself with epinephrine and call 911.
Food allergies are on the rise, and there is no one definitive answer on how to treat them. The best thing you can do is to work with your doctor to develop a comprehensive plan that meets your needs and lifestyle. There are a few key things to keep in mind when treating food allergies. First, always carry your epinephrine injector with you in case of accidental exposure. Second, know your triggers and avoid them as much as possible. Third, be sure to read food labels carefully and always ask about ingredients when eating out. With careful planning and a bit of vigilance, you can treat your food allergies and enjoy a safe and healthy life.