by Vladimire Herard


Staying clear of seemingly innocuous but potentially threatening foods such as eggs, fish and shellfish, milk, peanuts, soy, tree nuts and wheat and taking specific medications can help you keep allergies at bay, federal research authorities say.


So does making simple home repairs such as fixing plumbing leaks, keeping the basement dry, cleaning walls, baseboards and other common household surfaces, dusting furniture and removing carpeting and clutter among other solutions.


More than five million people nationwide, which represent one to two percent of adults and five to eight percent of children, suffer allergies, including from the aforementioned foods, the National Institutes of Health reports.


These individuals may harbor different types of food sensitivities, most of which are food intolerances. A few have food allergies centering on the immune system. Telling allergies apart from food sensitivities and intolerances can empower you to tell whether you had deadly reactions or not.


Food allergies can be dangerous and learning as much as possible about them from your primary care doctor, allergist, toxicologist, oncologist, pulmonologist or mental health professional can save your life.


Nature, Causes and Symptoms


A food allergy is the reaction of your immune system to an ingredient in a food you consume, most likely a protein. Allergies are serious conditions that must be tested and diagnosed by a board-certified allergist.


The most common allergens number eight such as eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat and are responsible for 90 percent of all bad reactions to food. In the past few decades, other foods have been added to the list.


Additionally, nonfoods can cause allergies as well. Spring flowers, a cat or a dog or  dust can make you itch, sneeze or scratch excessively.


Symptoms can vary not only among individuals but also during different instances of exposure in one person. These symptoms can differ in the severity of the reaction to a food or nonfood item or the timing of incidents.


Reactions can include skin irritations such as eczema, gastrointestinal upsets such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, hives and rashes.


Allergies can also lead to sneezing, runny noses and breathing difficulties. Still, others can undergo a more deadly reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can affect different parts of the body.


Contrary to popular belief, you are not likely to suffer from allergies to food additives. Some elements may trigger an asthma attack or hives but they are not the same as allergies found with food.


Such additives may be found in aspartame in sugar, monosodium glutamate in chips, fast food, frozen dinners, instant noodles and multiple food dyes. However,  none of these cause allergies.


Anaphylaxis As Extreme Reaction


Additionally, individuals who experience allergies may endure anaphylaxis, a rare but dangerous condition in which many parts of the body may react to allergies.


As can be expected, symptoms may include labored breathing, dizziness, an increased heartbeat, hives, itching, lower blood pressure, body rashes, swelling of the face and throat, unconsciousness and weakness.


They present instantly, often within minutes of exposure to the allergy. These symptoms can be deadly, requiring immediate medical attention.


Standard treatment involves an injection of epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline, to open up the lungs and blood vessels.


Food Intolerance and Idiosyncrasy


Other bodily responses to foods are known as food intolerances and idiosyncrasies.  Both types of reactions tend to be local, temporary but safe as opposed to food allergies that are considered dangerous.


A food intolerance is a reaction to foods that deal with digestion but not the immune system. A good example is lactose intolerance. This occurs when a person does not have an enzyme to digest milk sugar or lactose.


A lactose-intolerant person consumes dairy products and may suffer gas, bloating or abdominal pain.


A food idiosyncrasy is a reaction to foods that mimicks the symptoms of a food allergy but does not involve the immune system.


Examples include responses to corn, high fructose corn syrup and sugar. The burn you experience after you eat chili peppers with a meal also serves as an instance of  food idiosyncrasy. Such foods can trigger a chemical or drug-like reaction.

Solutions to Allergies


Depending on your personal circumstances, a wide number of options are open to you to respond when you believe you have a negative reaction to certain foods.


Firstly, you can consult with an allergist to get a formal diagnosis of your allergies. An allergist, nutritionist or dietitian can assist you in managing your dietary challenges without skimping on quality, balanced meals or their taste.


An allergist’s diagnosis will encompass your complete medical history, your food diary and his or her review of it, skin-prick, blood tests and food challenges to check your reaction to certain foods.


With the diagnosis, your allergist and your nutritionist can devise a plan to manage your reactions to foods. This may include taking medicine by injections to control them.


Then your specialists will advise that you work to avoid consuming the foods that cause your allergies.


Secondly, if you experience a severe allergy, you must contact 911 immediately and carry out the plan to manage your reactions that your allergist created for you.


Thirdly, often times, food allergies can take place when you eat at a restaurant. You can communicate with restaurant staff or chef or manager about your circumstances so you can be accommodated in the case of an emergency.


Fourthly, the Food and Drug Administration regulates food and drug safety in products and calls for ingredients to be listed on food labels. You can be sure to review the labels to look for and recognize the eight main food allergens described far above.


The food and drink industries are consistently finetuning their products. It pays for you to consult food labels for each product every time you shop for groceries.


Fifthly, you can ponder how your allergies affect your sleep and how to best manage them at night.


Part of management of allergies involves conducting a sinus rinse of your nose regularly to cleanse your nose of harmful elements. The rinses can be purchased by perscription at your local pharmacy.


The other aspects of tracking how allergies influence your rest means the use of hypoallergenic pillows based on the type of fabric, the most common allergy symptoms you suffer and a consultation with your primary care physician or a naturopathic doctor.


Sixthly and lastly, you can also reduce your exposure to allergies through careful house cleaning and home improvement.


You can start by taking into account the 200-plus indoor allergens in your private home that can trigger an attack or an emergency.


This includes dust mites that can number 500 such ones on a gram of dust, feed off of dead skin flakes per day, produce 20 mite droppings daily and cause wheezing, sneezing and other symptoms in one out of ten people nationally.


Allergens also count as proteins in the dander of dead skin flakes, urine and the spit of dogs and cats and cockroach droppings that lead to asthma attacks.


Additionally, about 200 chemicals in the home, including building materials, lead to symptoms. For example, mold in the bathroom, kitchen or the basement collaborates with dust mites.


To resolve the problem of mites, you can purchase mite-proof mattresses and pillow covers for your bedding to scale back on allergies or asthma attacks, researchers in a New England Journal study advise.


You also can contract out plumbing services to fix water leaks in the kitchen and bathroom and to eliminate moisture in your basement.


Every year, you can have your air filters inspected and cleaned to control mite-influenced allergies, researchers at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology report.


The organization adds that your rugs, carpet, upholstered furniture and clutter make perfect hiding spots for mites and can be cleansed, disinfected and deodorized regularly.


Aside from sweeping and scrubbing walls, baseboards and floors vigorously, it is best to invest in area rugs as they are easier to launder regularly and vacuuming effectively than wall-to-wall carpeting, researchers say.











  • International Food Information Council Foundation, IFIC Review: Understanding Food Allergy Food Additives Food Color Facts,



  • National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Asthma Education and Prevention Program,