Some common doubts related to food allergy cleared

Proteins enter our body through different food contents we intake, and our body may ‘over react’ to some proteins which we term as ‘Food Allergy’. Apart from food, air and water can also act as medium to allergic proteins to human body. I have earlier discussed in brief about how food allergy can originate or where it comes from. Follow this link to know more. Now coming to this topic on food allergy, I shall try to clear some of the basic doubts related to food allergy.

Angioedema is the term given to swelling of body parts as a reaction to food allergy, and it’s common to see swellings near mouth, neck etc. Swellings may form inside human body which are not visible/partially visible from outside, and swellings in neck near respiratory tracks should never be neglected as it may block air passage.  

It’s true, among all forms of allergies, food allergy is most common, and you are lucky if you are non-allergic to all your favourite dishes. It’s very rare if you are a non-allergic person, not just the case of food. Dust allergy is yet another common allergy. As per studies, around 10% people show food allergy to different types of food. Asthma, allergic rhinitis (associated with cold for a continuous period of time, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose etc), itching and swelling of eyes (allergic conjunctivitis), swelling and itching of skin or reaction of body to any kind of medicine – An allergy can attack you many ways and you can’t find its feasible solution without finding the root cause.

We can’t widely categorize allergic items. Milk products, shelled sea food, wheat and wheat products, certain fruits like small-sized banana and grapes, nuts, cakes, processed food like noodles etc are some of the common allergic items. Yet it is difficult to draw similarities between allergic properties of two. i.e. An allergic food item for a person will be normal to another person. A person highly allergic to milk products may not have issues with sea food. Body reaction to each food item will definitely differ from person to person.

It’s indeed a challenging task to find an allergic item of food. It may take long years to find the ‘culprit’. Avoiding it is the better solution. If your kid has allergy problems, avoid maximum to serve him refrigerated food. Warm food is best for him. Sudden climatic variations, especially cold weather conditions, paints, perfumes, pets, air pollution and dust, paddy fields, unhygienic family atmosphere with dirt and dust, wooden hearth, agarbatis and air fresheners, fungus, extra manual effort, fungus – any of these conditions can trigger allergy problems or asthma. If you avoid these listed items, we can prevent allergic issues to great extent. Through this column, let us discuss about food allergy only and clear a few doubts.

1. Iching and swelling are the end results following the intake of flavoured drinks or coloured sweets like Jabebi, Laddu etc. What is the solution?

Swelling and itching are the most common symptoms of food allergy. In some people, symptoms are clearly visible a few moments after the intake of food, while it may take a couple of hours in other cases. Food colouring agent is the real villain here. All of them are chemical substances extremely harmful to human body. That’s why body quickly responds to such products and show it off as swellings. Through skin tests it’s possible to know which product causes allergy, and the best solution is to avoid the product.

2. Refrigerated coconut causes allergy if used the following day. Is there any remedy?

Fungus could be the reason. Even refrigerated food items are not free from fungus. They can easily cause food allergy, but in some cases. If you have identified that old coconut causes allergy reaction, it’s better to avoid it.

3. What if beef, mutton, prawns or crab causes swelling and itching? What is the solution to seafood allergy?

Only treatment to food allergy is to avoid the allergy causing item. But in case you have taken some food which may cause allergy or given allergic reactions, medicines can give you a temporary solution. Sadly there is no permanent remedy to food allergy. So stay away from allergy causing food, once you recognized it.

It’s also possible that if you completely avoid allergy causing food items for the next five or six years, food allergy may not affect you. But you need patience for long years so that your body forgets to overreact to the allergic food item. You should not even taste this food in between. Let the body and brain forget its taste and ingredients!

4. There is no allergy with duck eggs. But intake of hen’s egg can give swelling. What could be the reason?

Though contents of hen’s egg and duck’s egg remain almost the same, difference lies in the presence of certain antigens. It may differ based on the breed of duck or hen. That’s why some people have allergy with duck eggs while a few others have issues with hens’ eggs. Only remedy is to avoid it.

5. Can flavouring agent Ajinomoto cause allergy?

Yes, definitely. Monosodium glutamate is quite infamous for allergy and health related issues. Chinese and Japanese foods contain this chemical product. That’s why noodles, pasta, sauce, fried rice or mayonnaise cause food allergy easily. Egg content in mayonnaise can cause food allergy. In this case you can try eggless mayonnaise. Even then if allergy sustains leave it. If you have problems with Ajinomoto, leave your favourite Chinese dishes and gave them a break. You can also try delicious Chinese dishes at home without adding the flavoring agent.

6. How can gluten in wheat cause food allergy? Is there any solution?

Glutan is a type of protein which is most commonly seen in barley, wheat etc. If you are allergic to glutan, avoid wheat products, and also beers with barley content. Sadly All-purpose flour (maida), semolina (rava) and common atta (used for rotis and chapatis) contain glutan and hence an allergic person has to avoid rotis and sweets/snacks made using all-purpose flour. Rice, free of glutan won’t cause allergic issues. This protein can also cause Celiac disease, related to intestine resulting in bloating and diarrhoea. In India, glutan is not harmful, but some other proteins in wheat may be. Glutan allergy is most common among Europeans.

7. Soon after consuming milk products like Kheer, ice cream etc, stomach may feel upset, and there is an urgent need to go to toilet. Why so?

Milk and milk products can also cause allergy. That’s the reason why. In some cases enzymes needed to digest Lactose – a carbohydrate content of milk products may be absent, resulting in such issues. But it is not at all allergic. This condition is known as Lactose intolerance in medical terms. Dysentery could be end result, which is not at all allergic. If it is allergic, swelling and itching always accompany.

Itching and swelling inside mouth and tongue, stomach pain, vomiting, dysentery etc are some of the common symptoms of allergy. If vomiting, stomach pain or dysentery are not associated with symptoms like body swelling and itching, it’s simply a digestion issue. You should distinguish between these two, and a medical practitioner can easily assist you. Rashes in kids may be the result of allergy to cow’s milk. Take a note of this.

A few Ayurvedic tips to get rid of allergies

1. Consume lemon juice without adding salt or sugar.

2. Boil water adding the outer shell of Terminalia bellirica tree’s seed (Taannikka Thodu in Malayalam) and allow it to cool. Use it for bathing.

3. Apply coconut milk on affected skin portions.

4. Take a few leaves of ivy gourd leaves, crush them and extract the juice. Apply this juice on affected areas.

5. Add 3 gm gooseberry powder to 10 gm ghee and consume it.

Image source: Pixabay

Also read a few more health articles on eating habits. Click on the images in the gallery to read

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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