Food Allergies

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Each year, millions of Americans have allergic reactions to food. Although most food allergies cause relatively mild and minor symptoms, some food allergies can cause severe reactions, and may even be life-threatening. Dr. Edward Hill talks about food allergies in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

A food allergy is an exaggerated response of the immune system to certain foods, such as milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, wheat and soy.

An allergy is not the same as food intolerance. Food intolerance can occur with some of the same foods that cause allergies. Symptoms of food allergy include hives or eczema; hoarse voice; wheezing; swelling of lips or face; abdominal pain; diarrhea or vomiting; problems swallowing; difficulty breathing; and itchy eyes, throat, or skin.

Food intolerance often causes abdominal pain or cramps or diarrhea. This can be caused by cows-milk products in people with lactose intolerance and grains containing gluten, such as wheat, barley, and rye in those with celiac disease.

The most important intervention is to avoid the food, which may require careful reading of labels and detailed questions when eating out. You may be able to treat mild reactions with antihistamines. If the reaction is severe, it may cause life-threatening airway obstruction requiring immediate treatment with epinephrine.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.