Allergic Reactions to Food

Allergic reactions to food may be an inconvenience or mild annoyance or could be severe and life threatening. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a small number of foods are responsible for the majority of allergic reactions to foods. Although most allergic reactions to foods develop during childhood, new allergies to food may develop in adulthood as well.

Significance

Allergic reactions to food result from an excessive response by the immune system to a protein in food. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 8 percent of children and 1 to 2 percent of adults in the United States have some type of food allergy. Allergic reactions to food can be mild and short-lived or could be severe—even fatal—if not urgently treated.

Types

According to the Mayo Clinic, allergic reactions to food may be moderate allergies or severe anaphylaxis. Some allergic reactions may be induced by exercising shortly after eating. Other types of allergic reactions may result from cross-reactivity of proteins in vegetables and fruits to pollen in the air.

Features

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the six foods that most frequently cause allergic reactions in children are cow’s milk, wheat, soy, tree nuts, eggs and peanuts. In adults, the most common allergic reactions to foods are from peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and fish. According to the Mayo Clinic, cooked fruits and vegetables will not cause allergic reactions.

Identification

Food allergies may be diagnosed by a doctor after exposure to a food that caused an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions to food may also be identified by tests done in a doctor’s office. Either a skin scratch test using common allergens or an antibody blood test may be done to diagnose allergies to specific foods.

Considerations

Food labels may use many different names for certain ingredients. Milk may also be identified as casein, whey, whey protein, sodium caseinate, or lactoglobulin.
Food allergies are more common during childhood and may be outgrown. Children who are breast-fed are less likely to develop allergies than those who are fed formula.

Prevention/Solution

The best way to prevent allergic reactions to food is to avoid known allergens and get tested after an allergy is suspected. Waiting until after six months of age to feed an infant solid foods may prevent allergies from occurring. Reading food labels and avoiding unlabeled foods may prevent allergic reactions. People who are prone to severe allergic reactions to foods should carry their medicine and an allergy card that identifies the allergies.

Warning

Cross-contamination of foods prepared in restaurants may result in exposure to an offending food. A person who has dizziness, difficulty breathing, or fainting after eating a food should call emergency medical services. Severe allergic reactions to food require immediate medical treatment due to the risk of shock or death.

Why Should People Floss?

Daily flossing is an essential element of proper dental hygiene. It removes plaque, which can turn into tartar and cause gingivitis and gum disease. Regular cleanings by a dentist or hygienist help reduce tartar build-up. Studies have also shown that flossing even prevents strokes and heart attacks. Treat your teeth to flossing each day to improve your health and smile.

Significance

People should floss their teeth at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque that a toothbrush doesn’t reach. Plaque is a sticky layer of material which contains bacteria, causes tooth decay, and can also cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which can then lead to periodontal disease.

Plaque can start forming as soon as four hours after brushing. When plaque is not removed, it eventually hardens and turns into tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist.

Warning

More dangerous bacteria can start building up in the tartar and producing toxins. The toxins irritate a person’s gums, an inflammation called gingivitis. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, where the toxins invade the bones supporting the teeth. This can lead to bone loss and loose teeth, and even to teeth falling out.

Considerations

Studies have also indicated that flossing helps to prevent strokes and heart attacks. Periodontitis and even gingivitis are strong risk factors for cardiovascular disease, because of the stress of continuous inflammation in the body. In one study of stroke patients, severe periodontitis was shown to significantly increase the chances of a stroke occurring.

The American Academy of Periodontology states that people with periodontitis are almost twice as likely to have heart disease.

Prevention/Solution

Flossing has cosmetic benefits as well. It stops ugly tartar build-up, and also prevents bad breath. It’s easy to prove how flossing stops bad breath by doing some flossing and smelling the debris that is removed.

Types

Many styles of floss are available – waxed and unwaxed, wide and regular, and there are flavored kinds such as mint and cinnamon. They all work about the same. The one consideration might be to use a wide floss if you have wider spaces between your teeth, but the most important thing is to choose a product and use it daily.

Water-piks are not as effective as floss, because they do not remove plaque.

Function

Floss should be gently rubbed up and down between teeth, and into the spaces between the gums and teeth. The American Dental Association recommends flossing for two or three minutes, and states that even people who floss daily typically do not spend enough time at it.