Symptoms: there is a wide spectrum of response to food allergy, from the very mild itching of lips to a full blown, life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Here are some of the more common signs of the allergic response
- Tingling lips or itching in the mouth
- Red itchy blotches or hives with itching or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat.
- Wheezing, stuffed nose or difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain, diorrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of the lips, tongue and throat
- Difficulty breathing due to severe narrowing of the airways
- Rapid heart beat and low blood pressure
- Shellfish, such as prawns, lobster and crab
- Tree nuts eg walnuts
Also, for some people, exercise can trigger a food allergy response so it's best to avoid eating before exercise for those with a known food allergy. Finally, those people with hay fever may find that in the hay fever "season" their food allergies are worse as there appears to be a crossed over effect with pollen and the triggering food proteins.
Diagnosis: There is no definitive diagnostic test for food allergies, but a comprehensive history backed up with appropriate testing - skin patch testing and blood tests - can lead to a pretty definite diagnosis.
Treatment: For milder cases, these can be managed by simple over the counter Anti-Histamine medications. For more serious episodes, then medical advice must be followed and patients will need to be trained how to use an Adrenaline containing, self-injecting syringe, and to carry it at all times.
As my mother used to say -never trust anyone - always read the labels, even if you've had a similar food before, read the label again, as contents can and do change.
If in doubt, don't eat it: it's much safer.
For children: parents do need to be vigilant and tell family, friends and schools that their child has a food allergy and never take a risk that someone will be as careful as you in caring for your child's health.