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The other day, I was talking to a friend who said she took her 5-year-old daughter in for her annual peanut allergy check-up.  It had been decided by doctors early on that her daughter had a severe allergy to peanuts, so my friend was vigilant about making sure that her daughter never came in contact with a peanut and was hopeful that maybe, one day, she’d outgrow the allergy.  According to an article published by Mayo Clinic in 2013, only about 20% of children outgrow peanut allergies.  But lo and behold, the results came back negative, and it was definitely a pleasant surprise!

Mayo Clinic describes “a food allergy as the body’s immune system mistakenly identifying a specific food or part of a food as something harmful.  When that happens, the immune system releases into the body immunoglobulin E (or IgE) antibodies.  The next time the IgE antibodies sense that food, they cause a variety of chemicals, including histamine, to be released into the bloodstream”.

The chemicals can cause the usual allergy symptoms, such as:

  • Hives
  • Skin rash
  • Excess mucous
  • Throat swelling
  • Stomach pain/gas
  • Breathing/respiratory issues
  • In extreme cases, anaphylaxis

Food allergies shouldn’t be confused with food intolerance, which is also a nuisance, but less serious.  An intolerance to food usually shows up as digestive issues, like bloating, abdominal pain or gas and can come on gradually, and at any time over a lifespan.

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