At Vuly Trampolines, we believe that it's important to shine a light on all aspects of health and fitness. Food allergies are one of those things that many of us believe to be harmless—unless we know someone who has one! While we may assume that a food allergy will only cause hives or stomach pains, severe 'anaphylaxis' can result in swelling of the throat or tongue and even an acute cardiovascular response.
From 15-21 May, Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia calls on our whole country to recognise Food Allergy Week, which intends to raise awareness of this unassuming, but potentially life threatening, medical condition. We've spoken before about the global initiative for families and fitness, but today, we want to take a closer look at what food allergies are and how they may affect your family.
Being 'allergic' to a food means that your immune system has mistakenly identified a specific food molecule—usually a protein—as a threat to you. When you consume that food, the immunoglobin E (IgE) in your body responds by binding to that molecule, triggering the release of inflammatory chemicals—like histamine. If your reaction is mild, you may only have some gastrointestinal issues and skin problems (a sore tummy or a rash).
In severe allergy cases, people experience 'anaphylaxis', a potentially fatal reaction, which affects the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Their upper airways may close, leading to an inability to breathe, or they may fall into cardiac arrest.
With the potential reactions being so serious, it's important to know what foods are most likely to cause a response and just how common food allergies are. One in 10 babies in Australia will develop a food allergy; however, many will grow out of it during early childhood, For children, the most common allergy foods are milk, eggs, soy and wheat.
Two in 100 adults also have a food allergy, with some developing it later in life. The most common foods to affect adults are nuts, soy, milk, wheat and seafood. These five account for 90% of all adult food allergies.
Sometimes, food allergies may not cause a major identifiable reaction, as anaphylaxis would. Knowing if your child has developed a food allergy can be tricky. Look out for skin rashes, nausea, stomach upsets or hay fever-like symptoms, for anywhere from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours after eating. An itchy tongue or mouth can also be a sign of food allergy.
Remember: If your child experiences difficulty breathing or swallowing, faintness or acute chest pain, they may be experiencing a severe allergic reaction. This is a medical emergency, and you should get them to a hospital as quickly as possible.
If you discover your child does have an allergy, visit your doctor. They can speak to you about the medications that are available—especially the epinephrine to administer in the event of an emergency. It’s important to then note exactly which food(s) your child has developed an allergy to. Make sure that their school, family members and friends know as soon as possible.
Some food allergy sufferers are very sensitive, and they can even be affected by the smell of the trigger food. Remember that their bodies are reacting to very small molecules; cross-contamination is a big risk. Cooking methods, like barbecuing and deep frying can involve a number of foods being cooked in the one place, and so are best avoided. Ensure that you never prepare a trigger food around the allergy sufferer's meals, and always let restaurant staff and those preparing food know of the allergy.
Do you or someone in your family have a food allergy? What special steps do you have in place to prevent an allergic reaction?