You eat strawberries, you get hives. You eat shellfish, you vomit. Your child eats peanuts, and you better have an epi-pen handy for anaphylaxis – a severe food allergy reaction that can cause death.
Food allergies affect approximately 6-8% of all children and 4% of adults. Thankfully, many children grow out of them as they age. But what causes food allergies and what can be done about them? Just as with any type of allergy, food allergies are caused by a faulty immune system response to a food allergen. The immune system treats the specific food as an “invader” and produces antibodies to “fight it.” The next time you eat that same food, the antibodies tell your immune system to release histamines and other chemicals and these cause the allergic reaction to the offending food.
Food allergies, like allergies to dust, pollen, [mold] spores and the like, are thought to be inherited. If both parents have allergies, their child is very likely to have allergies. The allergic reaction to the offending food generally takes place within 15 – 60 minutes after ingesting it. The allergy can start as itching in the mouth, constricted airways and difficulty swallowing. As the food is digested, gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, cramping and vomiting, can occur. The allergens can also cause hives, asthma, dizziness and anaphylaxis, a life-threatening sudden decrease in blood pressure. Eight foods, known as the “Big 8,” are responsible for 90% of all food allergies: dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy and wheat.
In children, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs are the most common offenders. Typical treatment for food allergies is food avoidance – omitting the food allergen from your diet. This can be difficult with certain foods, such as peanuts, that appear in trace amounts in many foods. It’s important to read labels and to be aware of what you’re eating. Antihistamines may be prescribed to treat symptoms, but allergy injections seem to have very little effect on food allergies.
On the other hand, chiropractic adjustments are intended to remove stress in the nervous system. By reducing vertebral subluxations (nerve interference), which cause stress in the nervous system, your body should be better able to accommodate chemical stress. Talk to your chiropractor if you or a family member suffers from food allergies.