Know about Food Allergies
Millions of people around the world are allergic to certain food allergens. While allergic reactions can be mild and require almost no treatment, severe allergies can be life-threatening, with exposure to the food allergen in question causing anaphylaxis, suffocation by swelling of the throat, and death.
The eight most prevalent food allergens are:
· Crustacean shellfish
· Tree nuts
Many countries now have strict labeling laws regarding the above ingredients and any ingredient containing a protein derived from one of the above food allergens. This is to help consumers know exactly what is in prepared food and if it is safe for them to eat.
The Typical Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction
The typical symptoms of allergic reactions are listed below. Symptoms can appear in as little as a few minutes after ingestion. However, symptoms which may not seem severe at first can become more severe and it is advised that patients go to a doctor or emergency room for treatment.
Mild to moderate symptoms:
· Skin redness, hives or welts
· Tingling mouth
· Swelling of the face, lips, and eyes
· Abdominal pain, vomiting
Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) requiring urgent medical treatment:
· Difficult/noisy breathing
· Wheeze/persistent cough
· Swelling or tightness of the throat
· Swelling of the tongue
· Difficulty talking/hoarse throat
· Persistent dizziness or collapse
Precautions to Take
Education is the first step to taking adequate precautions against ingesting food stuffs containing specific food allergens. Knowing how to read food labels and which products to avoid all together is a good start. Special precaution must be taken with small children who may not know what is safe to eat and what is not. Schools must therefore also be involved in ensuring that food allergens aren’t ingested by children.
When dining in a restaurant or even just at a friend’s house, make sure that they know about your allergy and how to avoid cross contamination of work surfaces and food while it’s being prepared. Those who have severe food allergies must be especially on their guard and try to educate people on the serious health dangers certain food allergens can pose.