Be diligent to recognize food allergies

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2016

Every day foods like peanuts, shellfish and diary products cause allergic reactions that send someone to the ER every three minutes, according to the Food Allergy Research & Education.
Picayune Family Practice Clinic’s Dr. Terrance Johnson said food allergies can be life threatening.
“All allergic reactions can be potentially very serious. However, most are minor and fairly brief,” said Johnson.
It is hard to identify which food causes an allergic reaction.
“Food allergies require a little detective work. Watch for patterns and if you develop a reaction each time you ingest a particular food, such as a rash, then eliminate the food item. There is no easy way to predict who will be allergic to a particular food,” said Johnson.
He also said that reactions could worsen and become more severe with repeated exposure.
“When allergic reactions tend to be more severe and progressive, it is wise to consult your physician about carrying an EpiPen, which can be life-saving,” said Johnson.
Also, Johnson recommends calling 911 immediately if someone is having an allergic reaction.
Some symptoms of food allergies include rash, headache, abdominal pain and swelling of the neck that can cause breathing and swallowing problems, Johnson said.
Some simple treatments that Johnson recommends are antihistamines, which are available and can help to slow or even resolve many allergy symptoms. Hydrocortisone cream can also help with an allergic rash.
“Most allergic reactions will improve with avoidance of the causative food type. Observe the symptoms closely and determine whether or not they are progressing slowly or rapidly,” said Johnson.
Comparing the reaction of food allergies to other allergic reactions is a good way to indicate if it is a food causing the symptoms.
“Inhalant allergens, like pollen or dust, seem to more often cause allergic rhinitis—runny nose, sneezing, post-nasal drainage and congestion—but can also sometimes cause increased wheezing and worsening of asthma. Food allergies can also do this but tend to cause more lesions, hives or other rashes and, more rarely, swollen lips and/or tongue,” said Johnson.
Food allergies can come from any type of food, said Johnson, so make sure that the appropriate precautions are taken.

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