“Food allergies affect an
estimated 6 to 8 percent of children under age 3 and up to 3 percent of adults”.
Mayo Clinic (May 2017). Food allergy. online Mayo Clinic. Available at:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/food-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20355095 Accessed 11/12/2017. There’s no cure for
food allergies however children can grow out of the allergy as they get older.
A food allergy is a reaction by the immune system, it occurs almost instantly
after eating certain foods. Even a small amount of the specific foods can
trigger symptoms such as digestive problems, skin conditions and swollen
airways. This can be life-threatening to some people. This essay is going to
explain what chemicals trigger food allergies, what symptoms arise from it and
what steps to put into place to help prevent and treat it.
There are 2 types of food allergies both
have different chemicals that trigger them, the most common one is IgE-mediated food allergy. The main culprit behind this
food allergy is a chemical known as Histamine. Histamine is released when a
food that you’re allergic to enters your system, once this happens a reaction
“According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), eight kinds of
food cause 90 percent of food allergies”. Health
line (August 2016).Food allergy causes. online Health line. available at
Accessed 11/12/2017. The start of this reaction is when antibodies that identify
threats to our body, such as bacteria and viruses begin
to target the specific food that we eat. The main antibody in allergic
reactions to food is called immuglobulin E (IgE); these antibodies generally
keep us from getting ill and protect our bodies from harmful substances.
Immugloblin E does this by signalling your immune system to release chemicals
to kill the threat and prevent it from harming your body. In this case however
the antibody mistakenly sees certain proteins in the food as harmful and begins
to attack it to try and prevent the food from harming you. This causes histamine
to be released and the reaction to begin.
The other type is called a non-IgE-mediated food allergy. This type is not
caused by IgE antibodies, this allergic rection is usually caused by cell reactions in the
immune system. Non-IgE-mediated reactions don’t appear as fast as the previous
reaction, they often appear several hours or days after the food is eaten and
can cause symptoms over a longer period of time, such as eczema, diarrhoea,
constipation and, in more severe cases, growth problems. Symptoms of a food allergy
normally appear within a few minutes of eating the food, although it can be
delayed by a couple of hours. The symptoms are usually similar to other allergies.
The symptoms can affect the gut (abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhoea), the
skin (swelling or a rash) and the respiratory system (sneezing, runny nose,
wheeze or a cough).
treatment for food allergies is to avoid the food that causes the allergy. When that isn’t possible, you can use medicines such as antihistamines for mild reactions and epinephrine for serious reactions”. Webmd (n.d.).Food allergies-treatment overview.
online Webmd. available at https://www.webmd.com/allergies/tc/food-allergies-treatment-overview#1 Accessed 13/12/2017. Antihistamines work by
stopping histamine from affecting your body when you come into contact with
something you’re allergic to, if you take the antihistamine before you eat
something you are allergic to it can prevent the reaction from happening such
as hay fever, if taken before coming into contact with pollen the symptoms may
not appear. Epinephrine is used to treat the more severe allergic reactions; it
works by countering the effects of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis, a life threatening
allergic reaction, can cause symptoms such as trouble breathing due to the
throat swelling, low blood pressure and cardiac arrest. Epinephrine treats anaphylaxis by acting on a
number of different pathways, it constricts blood vessels which reduces
swelling, it increases the heart rate of the effected person which helps
prevent the heart failing and finally it also relaxes the muscles around the
airways allowing breathing to become easier.
To wrap up It is clear that the chemicals
Immuglobulin E (IgE) and Histamine are the two main causes of these allergic
reactions to food; there are treatments and preventative methods for the people
with this however there’s still no cure. Further research may be able to
uncover a way to stop this potentially fatal reaction which will help millions
of people who are suffering from allergic reactions.