Food allergies are common complains experienced by many people. Such conditions are usually reactions to foods that are also commonly known as food intolerance, however food allergy and food intolerance are not synonymous since food intolerance does not involve the immune system but allergies do. Food allergies therefore are a reaction of the immune system to food substances that are not harmful such as milk and peanuts, which results in the release of histamine that causes swelling, itchiness, or inflammation of body tissues. This constitutes some of the symptoms of food allergies. The substance that cause allergies are known as allergens. Most food allergies result to unpleasant reactions to the body after eating something of a particular type of food. Proteins are the most common allergy-causing element in foods. This paper seeks to investigate food allergies in the following foods shellfish, peanut, milk, eggs and sulphate. The paper further seeks to establish the causes of food allergies, problems, and solutions to food allergies (Freeman 47).
According to Plaut (8), our bodies produce antibodies that are usually produced to prevent infections and other harmful substances from attacking the body. When a food containing an allergen is introduced into the system, the immune system releases antibodies known as immunoglobin E to counter any harmful effects while in essence the food is not harmful. The antibodies released are transported via the blood while attached to the mast cells protecting the body from further invasions in case the mistaken harmful substance by the immune system is consumed again. This is how an allergy develops since the mast cells continue responding through the release of histamine in an attempt to protect the body producing allergic symptoms. The allergic symptoms of a food depend on the location in the body where the histamine has been released. For example, if it is released around the ears, the nose, and throat, one may experience itchiness at the nose and mouth, or trouble breathing or swallowing. If histamine is released in the skin, one may also develop hives or a rash. If for instance histamine is released in the alimentary tract, one is likely to develop stomach pains, cramps, or even diarrhea. Many people experience multiple symptoms because the food is eaten and digested passing in most of the body parts (Croner 58).
Food allergies manifest themselves in different forms. The reactions to foods are usually rapid and are experienced within an hour or two after consuming the food. The reactions may also appear within seconds or even after a few hours after an individual eats the food. The most common forms in which food allergies manifest themselves are skin rashes. These rashes are commonly known as hives; the rashes do not stay longer and disappear after a few days. In some instances, one may develop chronic rashes that may last for a longer period. These patches are referred to as atopic dermatitis. Another way in which food allergies manifest themselves is through itchiness in the nose or eyes, frequent sneezing with a running nose as well as other symptoms such as wheezing, loss of breath and a cough. However, these symptoms are not commonly observed in food allergies but may be present in other types of allergy that may be caused by dust or pollen. Reactions from food allergy may also manifest themselves as itchiness and swelling in the lips and mouth area especially when they are exposed to the food. Different individuals many exhibit different symptoms of food allergies, for instance some may complain of nausea or vomiting as well as diarrhoea and cramps, metallic taste in the mouth is also common complain. Some of these symptoms of food allergies may become extreme requiring medical attention (Freeman 47).
The causes of food allergies can be established when a person develops sensitivity when exposed to the food and reactions manifest themselves when a particular food is eaten. Such sensitivity may be observed after exposure to shellfish, peanuts, milk, and eggs among other foods. Heredity factors are linked to food allergies, people may inherit food allergies from their parents whereby a particular allergen like food may cause reactions to the body of an individual.
Milk allergy is a common food allergy experienced by many people. Cow’s milk has been observed to cause food allergy especially in children. The allergy is often seen in children having atopic dermatitis. The child may develop the allergy directly by consuming a cow’s milk or through breast milk when the mother consumes dairy products. Most children overcome this allergy at three years of age. The symptoms of food allergy from milk are not serious and usually affect any body part. Milk allergy is as a result of different allergens found in cow’s milk. Casein is one of the allergen and can cause allergy even when in very small amounts.
Another food that causes food allergy is peanut. They are among the most common sources of food allergy. Peanuts can lead to severe cases of allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis because they have an allergen that can be destroyed by neither cooking nor roasting. Peanut allergy can be very severe and even exposure to small amounts may trigger reactions and getting into contact with little peanut amounts can cause serious reactions. However, when people with peanut allergy are exposed to refined peanut oil they have been observed to be safe. This attributed to the removal of allergens during the manufacturing process. In addition, individuals sensitive to peanut may also react to other legumes for example soya, kidney beans and other nuts.
Shellfish allergy is another food allergy that is common. The allergy is caused by consumption of different types of shellfish such as the lobster and crayfish among others. Individuals with this allergy are known to react even at the slightest exposure to any type of shellfish. The vapours from a cooking fish may as well affect such individuals.
Allergies pose many challenges not only to the people affected by particular foods but also to businesspersons especially in the food industry such as restraints and hotels. Customers with different food allergies require to be taken care off to ensure they are satisfied and get value for their money just like other customers. The challenge is how to make them establish the foods they experience sensitivity. Therefore, it is important to ensure proper food labelling in order to minimize the chances of reactions to foods oblivious of its content especially in restraints. This will lead to better management of allergies to those affected.
Sulphate has become a major component of most personal hygiene products ranging from detergents to drugs such as multivitamins. Many people are developing intolerance to sulphate and are allergic to this ingredient found in most products used at home. Itchiness of the skin is the main symptom once a person gets into contact with it, which may last over a couple of days. In severe cases, breathing problems may occur as we as hives causing swelling at the throat. Sulphate allergy can manifest itself in people of all ages; it is not age specific like milk, which is common in kids.
A specialist can manage food allergies through a proper diagnosis of the allergy. When the food associated with allergy is established avoidance of the food is advisable. When such a food containing the allergen is eliminated for a longer period of about one to two years, the probability of the individual exhibiting clinical symptoms is very low. However, most allergies caused by fish and peanuts are life long calling for complete avoidance of such foods. On the other hand, individuals with such allergies may also use nutritional supplements to ensure adequate nutrition. The engagement of a health and nutrition practitioner is vital in order to ensure proper and adequate dietetic planning in for one to manage allergies appropriately. In addition, all the food ingredients contained in a particular food must be labelled appropriately to make sure people allergic to certain foods identify them and avoid them. Individuals having severe food allergies ought to protect themselves adequately. Preventive measures such as medical bracelets that create alertness communicating their conditions are also very appropriate.
It is also important to educate allergic individuals about allergic foods to make them fully aware about what they consume in their daily foods. This will not only minimize the chances of getting into contact with such foods but will make them develop commitment in dealing with allergies. For instance, the individual should be advised carry medications especially those with severe reactions in order to manage the allergy appropriately. There also exists medications for treating allergy symptoms, antihistamines are one of the drugs that relieve allergy symptoms such as hives, running nose and sneezing. In asthmatic conditions, bronchodilators can be used when an individual is exposed to an allergen (American Academy of Allergy).
Food allergy is a challenging issue in terms of health and economic aspects of individuals affected as well as their significant others and families. In addition, such people risk severe reactions such anaphylaxis on consumption of food that causes sensitivity. The young ones are at a greater risk of food related allergies as opposed to adults. For instance, milk intolerance, which often leads to allergic reactions, is prevent in young children and can lead to life threatening conditions. Therefore food allergy is a health concern that should be handled appropriately at all levels. It is important that people understand about food allergies and food intolerance in order avoid consumption of allergy causative foods but rather to identify alternatives to supplement the nutritional values derived from such foods.
The method used in this research is simple random sampling technique. This method involves selecting a sample at random to get a representative sample of the target population. This method reduces bias and represents the entire population among individuals with food allergies. The sample also cuts across different age groups and gender. The research was acquired through interviews whereby interview schedule was used to interview the participants. Questionnaires were also used in the research. Theses were the two tools used in the research to gather data.
In conclusion, food allergies are as result of specific proteins contained in certain foods that make the immune system respond to the allergen causing allergic symptoms such as swelling, itchiness, and nausea or vomiting. This due to production of antibodies that attempt to offer protection to the body to the potentially harmful substance perceived by the mast cells that lead to the release of histamines. Some of the allergy causing foods are milk, peanuts, shellfish, and sulphates that are common ingredients in household products especially detergents. Allergies are a health concern that affects an individual physical and emotional health and having financial implications. Some food allergies are severe and can be life threatening just like other diseases. However, some food allergies may be outgrown with age but others remain a life long condition.
The research indicates that, the level of awareness on food allergies among the students has improved. In addition, the students were interactive in asking and answering questions expressing their interest in the research. The research was particularly helpful to students with food allergies since they can be able to manage their different conditions appropriately as well assist others affected. Their reactions also evidence an understanding of the physiological processes in the body leading to the symptoms associated with food allergies. The research further provides alternatives to handle food allergies using supplements to compensate for nutrients that are in foods causing allergies. The students viewed the research as a basis for educating the society on food allergies, causes, management of such allergies and precautions.