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Food Allergy Specialist

West Houston Allergy & Asthma

Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology located in Katy, Richmond, & Houston, TX

Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging enough, but for children and adults with food allergies, eating poses more serious concerns. In some cases, allergic reactions can prove life-threatening. Pardeep Rihal, MD, at West Houston Allergy & Asthma, with locations in Katy, Richmond, and Houston, Texas, offers expert diagnosis and treatment for food allergies. Call the office nearest to you today to schedule an appointment, or book one online.

Food Allergy Q & A

What is a food allergy?

A food allergy is an immune system reaction to consuming a certain food. It’s a serious medical condition that could ultimately prove life-threatening. The condition affects over 32 million Americans, and 1 in 13 children have a food allergy. 

It’s easy to confuse a food allergy with food intolerance. A food allergy involves the immune system, while a food intolerance might upset your stomach, but your body doesn’t produce antibodies to fight the harmful substance. 

What causes a food allergy?

Your body’s immune system might identify specific foods or substances as allergens, things that are harmful to you. Your immune system activates cells to release immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody, to combat the allergen. 

Each time you have even the smallest part of that allergen, IgE antibodies signal to your immune system to release the chemical histamine into your bloodstream. These histamines then help your body get rid of the allergens. 

What are common food allergies?

It’s possible to be allergic to all kinds of foods, but there are common food allergies triggered by specific food proteins. Based on a recent study by Food Allergy Research & Education, eight common foods account for 90% of all allergic reactions, including:

  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • Tree nuts (walnuts and pecans)
  • Peanuts
  • Fish 
  • Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, and crab)

For adults, certain shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and fish trigger the majority of all food allergies. A study in 2010 showed that children are more susceptible to peanuts, followed by milk and shellfish. 

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

Food allergy symptoms can vary, depending on their severity and manifestation. For some, the allergic reaction is more uncomfortable than severe. For others, the response is stronger, perhaps even involving a life-threatening situation. 

It’s typical for food allergy symptoms to occur within minutes or hours from eating harmful food. The allergen enters the digestive system, and immediately your body triggers a protective response. When this happens, these common symptoms may occur:

  • Mouth tingling or itching
  • Itching from hives or eczema
  • Uncontrollable or severe coughing
  • Swelling of the body
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) upset
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness or fainting

Keep in mind that you may have multiple symptoms from a single allergen.

How are food allergies treated?

While there may not be a cure for food allergies, the allergic reaction may disappear over time. The first step in treatment is to have a board-certified allergist or immunologist at West Houston Allergy & Asthma take a detailed history to determine the food allergy. Once your doctor determines the food allergen, the best treatment is to avoid the trigger food. 

The caring team at West Houston Allergy & Asthma understands what it’s like to live with a food allergy. Reach the knowledgeable staff by calling the office nearest to you today to schedule an appointment, or book one online.