Food allergies are becoming more and more common as the food industry changes the way food is grown and harvested. We all know someone who is living with food allergies. But could you be living with them as well? The answer, quite simply is yes, you could. The signs of a food allergy are there. But do you know how to read them? Here are some ways to find out whether or not you are living with food allergies.
What Are “Food Allergies?”
The first step is to open your mind a bit and broaden your definition of what an allergy is and what an allergic reaction is like. Food allergies don’t have to be fatal, though they can be. Food allergies can range from super minor and more of an inconvenience to a terrifying experience.
Here is a list of common reactions to food allergies:
- Anaphylaxis (can be fatal)
- Difficulty swallowing
This is a partial list of food allergies, but it gives you a pretty good idea of what allergic reactions to food look at like. Reactions occur within the first hour. There’s no “Gee, I wonder if I am suffering from a serious or potential fatal allergic reaction to [insert food here].” It’s like being in love, you know or you don’t.
What About Long Term Food Allergies?
But what if you’ve been dealing with a long term allergy, say to dairy, but aren’t aware of it? What if you’re allergic to gluten and eat bread three times day? You’d probably be used to the signs if you weren’t ignoring them outright.
To test and see if you’re suffering from a food allergy, you can try this informal test before going to the allergist. Pick a food, say carrots, for example. Cut that food entirely out of your diet for a period of time, ideally at least a couple of weeks. Be super, super strict about it. Then after the specified period of time, eat it. Your body will let you know in no uncertain terms whether or not it’s okay for you to reintroduce that food item back into your diet.
If you feel you may be at risk to have allegoric food reactions, say, while dining out, you can and should carry around over the counter allergy medicines, like Allegra and Benadryl. They will help you neutralize most, but not all allergic reactions you may encounter.
The only other thing you can do to protect yourself against serious and potentially fatal food allergic reactions is to carry an EPI-PEN. An EPI-PEN is a large pen shaped needle that you inject into your thigh to prevent a fatal allergy. You will still need to go to the hospital after injecting yourself, but it will keep you alive. And four out of five dentists recommend that being alive is better than being dead.
Seeking Professional Treatment
If you want to get an EPI-PEN or simply want to explore whether or not you do in fact have food allergies, you should consider seeking out medical advice and attention in the form of meeting with an Allergist.
An Allergist is a doctor that deals solely with the diagnosis and treatment of allergies of all sorts, not just food allergies. He or she will test you for all kinds of allergies and very quickly, you will know whether or not you are allergic to foods or not. There is a difference between having food allergies and simply having a food that just rubs you the wrong way. The allergist can work with you to not only identify what you are allergic to, but how to deal with those allergies.
Living Life With Food Allergies
Dealing with food allergies can be considerably more difficult than just having them. It may not be hard for you to deal with, but it can often be more difficult for your friends and family to understand and deal with. You will hear things like “You can be allergic to that!” Or “You’re just being a picky eater” or “a little bit won’t kill you.” Well, a little bit can kill you depending on the allergy and the severity of it.
Once you get past that, you will have to deal with the concept of eating out. Many restaurants may not care about your food allergies, especially if it is an obscure or rare allergy. Even if they do care, you could still be at risk. People in the kitchen may not care or be busy and can make mistakes. Other restaurants, say fast food or chains, may not do a good job of educating people about the potential allergens so they could tell you no, when they really should be telling you yes, the item will cause you a reaction.