Food allergy is an increasing public health concern, affecting an estimated 6-8% of children and 4% of adults in the United States. While the prevalence of food allergy has increased in recent years, many people still do not understand what a food allergy is, how to identify one, or how to best manage it.
Primary care providers play an integral role in identifying and managing food allergies. This article from your trusted urgent care center will give you with an overview of the condition, how to identify food allergies, and how to best manage them:
The Basics of Food Allergy
As the number of people with food allergies continues to rise, it’s more important than ever for primary care providers to understand the basics of these conditions.
There are many different types of food allergies, and each one requires its specific treatment. That’s why it’s so important for primary care providers to be up-to-date on the latest information.
Food allergies can result in a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. In some instances, they can even be life-threatening. That’s why it’s so important for primary care providers to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of food allergies.
There is no cure for food allergies. However, with proper management, most people with these conditions can lead healthy lives.
Distinguishing Between IgE and Non-IgE Mediated Reaction
Two types of reactions can occur when your body comes in contact with an allergen: IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated reactions. IgE-mediated reactions are the more severe type of reaction and are often associated with life-threatening conditions such as anaphylaxis. Non-IgE-mediated reactions are less severe, and typically result in symptoms such as itching, swelling, and redness.
IgE-mediated reactions occur when your body produces antibodies called IgE in response to an allergen. These antibodies bind to cells in your body, and a reaction occurs when the allergen comes into contact with antibodies. The symptoms of an IgE-mediated reaction can range from mild (such as a skin rash) to severe (such as anaphylaxis).
Non-IgE-mediated reactions occur when your body produces other types of antibodies in response to an allergen. These reactions are less severe than IgE-mediated reactions and typically result in symptoms such as itching, swelling, and redness.
How Food Allergy Is Diagnosed
The first step in diagnosing food allergies is to keep track of your symptoms. If you have a food allergy, you usually experience symptoms within the first few minutes up to a few hours after eating the offending food. These symptoms can range from mild (such as a rash or hives) to severe (such as anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction).
If you believe you or a family member has food allergies, it’s important to see an allergist, who can perform tests to confirm whether or not you have one. The skin prick test is perhaps the most common test used to diagnose food allergies. In this test, a tiny amount of the suspected allergen is pricked into the skin on your arm or back. If you’re allergic to the substance, you’ll usually develop a raised, itchy bump within 15 minutes.
Another test that can be used to diagnose food allergies is the blood test. This blood test looks for certain antibodies in your blood specific to the allergen you’re being tested for. This test is generally not as accurate as the skin prick test, but it can be helpful if you have a severe allergy and skin testing is not possible.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a food allergy, the best way to avoid a reaction is to avoid the food that triggers your allergy. In some cases, this may mean making some changes to your diet. But with a little planning, you can still enjoy a variety of foods, even with a food allergy.
Food allergy should be considered in primary care as it is a growing problem that can have serious consequences. Allergies can be difficult to diagnose and manage, so it is crucial to know how to recognize signs and symptoms and to seek medical help if you think you or a loved one may have an allergy. If you suspect symptoms of allergies, it’s best to go to an urgent care center near you.
Aspen Medical Center is an urgent care center in Santa Fe, NM, that can provide you with state-of-the-art primary care as well as urgent care services. Visit our urgent care center today!