food-allergy2Kathmandu Food is essential for human beings to survive. They give us nutrition and help us stay healthy. However, when the immune system responds in an abnormal way to the food one eats, then s/he can suffer from food allergies. When some food is taken they can show common allergies and immediate reactions. Sixteen-year-old Sneha Khanal of Koteshwor is allergic to certain foods. “I usually suffer from diarrhoea and itching and at times I get fever when I consume meat products and eggs. This is why became a vegetarian,” shared Khanal. “There is a cross reaction of immune system of the body towards the food taken. This is commonly known as food allergies,” informed Dr Kamal Raj Thapa, Assistant Professor, Medicine Department, Bir Hospital, Kathmandu. Food causing allergic reaction There are certain food that cause allergic reaction. Meat products and eggs usually are allergic. Avian meat is comparatively more allergic than that of mammals. Not only meat but grains such as wheat, soya protein, peanuts, almond, and pistachio usually cause an allergic reaction. Sea foods too fall in this category. Besides these, any food item can have an allergic reaction depending on the people. “One of the most common food allergies in an adult Nepali is due to wild honey. They are often admitted in the intensive care unit. And children are prone to milk product allergies. It depends upon the body immunity of an individual,” informed Dr Thapa. Signs and symptoms Food allergy symptoms usually develop within a few minutes to hours after eating the offending food. Food reaction such as diarrhoea is an immediate reaction when one eats items rich in lactose. “Most of the children suffer from food allergies. They are usually allergic to cow milk,” informed the doctor. Protein usually has an allergic reaction in the body. The immunity in the body has a pro-reaction to the protein intake. The immunoglobulin in the body is responsible for such sensitive reaction. “Food reactions can be uncomfortable for some while it can be severe to others. These reactions are sensitive and can be life threatening too. Itchiness like in Khanal’s case, hives, redness in eyes, swelling of the lips, face and tongue are some of the common symptoms of food allergies. Symptoms of an allergic reaction involve skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, cardiovascular system and nervous system. Hives, itchiness are some of the symptoms seen on the skin. Abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting are some of the common problems in gastrointestinal tract. Meanwhile, whizzing, coughing, difficulty in breathing are felt by the patients in respiratory tract. In the like manner, palpitation and lower blood pressure can also be seen as a reaction in cardiovascular system. Neurological symptoms such as dizziness, confusion and fainting are some other symptoms visible. food-allergy1When the symptoms are severe it is medically termed as anaphylaxis. “The body loses its pressure and there is difficulty in breathing. There is swelling of lips too when someone reaches in a condition of anaphylaxis. It could lead to the death if timely treatment isn’t given,” cautioned Dr Thapa. If people show allergic reactions s/he must immediately be taken to the nearby hospital. At any time Khanal suffered from food allergies from an early age and it is continuing to date. Though food allergies are common in children, they can appear at any age. One can even develop allergic reaction to food s/he eats for years without any problem. There are chances that children outgrow food allergies when they grow up. However, some food allergies are likely to continue. “Some people who are allergic to one food also show a cross sensitivity to other food items,” informed Dr Thapa. A person allergic to a certain type of nut may be allergic to other kinds of nuts too. Food allergies are genetic too. If any of the parent is allergic to certain food, his/her children are also likely to suffer from food allergies. This is why one doesn’t need to be surprised if his/her son/daughter has the same food allergy he/she has. People generally develop food allergies from the very first intake of the food items. So to get rid of food allergies one of the best ways is to avoid them. “As people are unaware of the form till which the allergy can go it is better to seek medical advice,” suggested Dr Thapa. Also one must never take drugs without a doctor’s advice as the medicine can lead to allergies.