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:
- 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.