Food – it’s the focal point of almost everything we do. We need it to keep our bodies functioning properly, it’s part of almost every meaningful social interaction, and sometimes it just makes us feel better. But for patients who are being treated for food allergies at Riviera Allergy Medical Center (RAMC), the relationship with food can take on a frightening new dimension.
These are the people who have been diagnosed with a food allergy to such common ingredients as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, soy, gluten, fish, shellfish, and so many others that we take for granted as part of our daily existence. They have to read labels more carefully, scrutinize menu options more closely in restaurants, and risk being seen as rude when they ask their hostess about the ingredients in a dish she has prepared. In some cases these allergies may even be induced by exercise or pollen, further curtailing activities.
Our patients are not alone in their heightened state of vigilance. Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is raising awareness that food allergies are a growing public health concern. Their compilation of statistics from many sources reveals that as many as 15 million people now live with food allergies. Of these, some 9 million sufferers are adults and nearly 6 million are children. Younger children seem to be particularly affected. Their research shows that these numbers are increasing, and taking a dramatic financial and physical toll.
Our founder and noted allergy doctor, Dr. Ulrike Ziegner, treats patients with all types all allergies. She notes that there have been vast improvements in allergy testing and treatment. Many sufferers today are able to experience high degrees of food allergy relief, and can minimize the stress they feel in eating-related situations. In this article, Dr. Z. offers some insights to help you understand how food allergies affect you and those you love.
Food Allergy Symptoms
Food allergies are related to an overshooting function of your body’s immune system. When working properly, the immune system will keep you healthy by destroying any bacteria or viruses that could make you sick. In some cases, though, your system can overreact by wrongly recognizing a harmless food protein as a threat and attack it.
There is a wide range of food allergy symptoms, from minor itching to life-threatening allergic reactions. These symptoms may show up immediately or may take as long as six to eight hours to appear. Here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Itching or tingling in the mouth after ingesting an allergenic food.
- Swelling of lips, tongue, throat, face, hands and/or feet.
- Wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing.
- Hives, skin rashes, eczema.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe abdominal pain and cramping.
- Dizziness, light-headedness, fainting.
Fainting may be caused by decreased oxygen supply from breathing difficulty and/or decreased blood circulation. Worst scenario, a food allergy can be life-threatening or even fatal, a condition known as anaphylactic shock, caused by severe airway tightening and a significant drop in blood pressure from widening of blood vessels. People displaying these symptoms must receive immediate emergency medical care, including epinephrine injections and a prompt 911 call. Food allergic patients who also suffer from asthma stand a much higher chance of experiencing such a serious medical episode.
Food Allergy Tests
Cases of suspected food allergies should always be evaluated and treated by a qualified medical professional, such as Dr. Ziegner. If you or a loved one has experienced a reaction to any type of food, set an appointment at RAMC for allergy tests. Dr. Ziegner is dedicated to finding the cause of your problems rather than just treating the symptoms. She uses state-of-the-art diagnostics to determine the root cause of your condition.
When you come to RAMC for advice, the first thing we do is taking a detailed medical history. We will ask you questions about your symptoms and suspected food allergy triggers. We will perform a comprehensive physical examination to check your current state of health. Depending on your specific situation and medical condition, we may recommend an allergy test such as a skin test, blood test, food challenge test, or a trial elimination diet. One or some combination of these and other tests may provide an answer to the puzzle of what is bothering you.
Food Allergy Relief
Once we have pinpointed the exact triggers for your food allergies, Dr. Z. will design a strategy for symptom relief. Food allergy remedies may include over-the-counter or prescription medications to help reduce symptoms of minor food allergy reactions. If you are in danger of a severe allergic reaction, Dr. Z. recommends that you carry an EpiPen® or Auvi-Q™(epinephrine autoinjectors) with you at all times. This is a device that contains a syringe and concealed needle which injects a single dose of medication for instant symptom relief. Research is constantly being conducted in this area, and RAMC will continue to search for and find food allergy medications to provide relief for our patients.
We will also advise you on other precautions and lifestyle adjustments you can make to deal with your food allergies. Be sure to ask us how to talk to family, friends, babysitters and teachers about your food allergy, so that they can become part of your support and care team. It can be difficult living with food allergies, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Talk to us today and let us provide you with the best allergy treatment possible.
About RAMC – Riviera Allergy Medical Center, located at 1711 Via El Prado, Suite 101 in Redondo Beach, offers comprehensive testing for food allergies. Once a specific trigger or triggers has been identified Dr. Ulrike Ziegner and the RAMC staff develop a comprehensive treatment plan to provide wheat allergy relief, gluten allergy relief, peanut allergy relief, nut allergy relief, egg allergy relief, and soy allergy relief. Visit the website at http://rivieraallergy.com to read our blog on seasonal allergies and allergy treatment. “Like” the Facebook page for allergy and asthma tips. Call 310-792-9050 or schedule an appointment online for allergy treatment.