Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 19th 2014 Contents Having a food
allergy is scary,
but being misin-
formed about the
facts of food aller-
gies can lead to
unnecessary anxiety and hyped fear.
Like many other health issues, lines about the
truths and facts of food allergies have been blurred
by the media and so-called "experts." Here is a
closer look at the misinformation swirling around
Food allergy and intolerance are the same thing
Fact: Although many people think they re the
same, food allergy and food intolerance describe
different conditions. A food allergy is when the
body s immune system is triggered.
It can lead to mild symptoms like hives, vomiting,
diarrhoea, sneezing and a running nose to more
severe symptoms like swelling of the lips, trouble
swallowing, chest pain and loss of consciousness.
These symptoms usually come on quickly after
someone eats a specific food.
The eight most common food allergies are milk,
wheat, peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts and
cashews), eggs, soy, fish, and shellfish.
On the other hand, food intolerance is triggered
by the digestive system. Typical symptoms include
nausea, bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea. The
symptoms tend to come on gradually and occur
when you eat over a tolerable limit of a food. Com-
mon food intolerances include dairy and wheat.
Once a child is diagnosed with a food allergy,
it can never be outgrown
Fact: Studies have shown that children can out-
grow food allergies. According to Food Allergy
Research and Education, up to 20 per cent of peanut
allergies and nine per cent of tree nut allergies are
Further, wheat allergy is most common in children
and is usually outgrown by the age of three years.
Research also shows that a majority of kids with
soy allergy outgrow the allergy by the age of ten.
This is why it is important for a child with a food
allergy to get regularly tested.
If you think you are allergic to a food, you
should stop eating it immediately
Fact: Cutting out a suspect food from your diet
without getting properly tested for a food allergy
is not advisable. Self-diagnosis can lead to unnec-
essary food restrictions and lead to an unbalanced
diet and nutritional inadequacies, especially in chil-
dren who need proper nutrition for proper growth
Further, some people may think they have a food
allergy when they actually have another type of
food disorder, and the treatment may be different.
A qualified medical professional, like a board-
certified allergist, can properly diagnose a food
Common diagnostic tests for food allergies include
a skin prick test, blood test, oral food challenge
and trial elimination diet. Having a combination
of tests conducted can give you the best picture of
what is really going on.
If you have a peanut allergy, smelling
peanuts can cause an anaphylactic reaction
Fact: In order for someone with a peanut allergy
to have a severe allergic reaction (like anaphylaxis),
the protein must be ingested. According to a study
published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical
Immunology, airborne exposure---the odour---doesn t
cause an anaphylactic reaction.
The aroma (or smell) of peanuts comes from a
compound in the peanuts that does not cause an
allergic reaction. If, however, you inhale peanut
particles, which is different from the peanut odour,
that can lead to an allergic reaction.
Rinsing hands or tabletops
with plain water is a great
way to remove food allergens
Fact: Rinsing hands with plain
water or with antibacterial hand
sanitiser is not an effective way
to remove food allergens. The same is true with
kitchen utensils and equipment.
In order to effectively remove food allergens from
your hands use liquid soap, bar soap or commercial
wipes. In order to remove the food allergen from
tabletops, use your common household cleaning
agents. (US News and Eorld Report)
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, May 19, 2014
Myths about food allergies
The eight most common food allergies are milk, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts (such
as walnuts and cashews), eggs, soy, fish, and shellfish.
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