If you feel ill after eating certain types of food, you might be suffering from more than indigestion. Food allergies can be serious conditions that affect more than just your gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Severe cases of a food allergy have the potential of causing deadly anaphylactic shock, which closes the windpipe and makes it difficult or impossible to breathe. This is why people who are allergic to a certain type of food must always be mindful of the ingredients of everything they eat. Just one careless mistake can be fatal.
It’s therefore essential to know how food allergies involve the digestive system. This knowledge will help you understand your symptoms in case of an accidental exposure to the allergen, and so you know the difference between normal heartburn and an allergic reaction to food.
How Allergies Work
Your immune system tries to protect you against threats at all times, but it mistakenly reacts aggressively to allergens if you are allergic to a certain substance. Your immune cells start to attack substances that do not actually pose a threat.
By launching these aggressive attacks, your immune system can cause collateral damage to your healthy cells. The immune response in your GI tract will create the symptoms you experience.
The GI Tract and Food Allergies
The problem with food allergies is that your immune system will mistakenly identify the food as an intruder that requires elimination. Food allergies typically occur when you eat a food that contains the particular proteins which trigger your immune system.
In an allergic reaction, the immune system creates an unfavorable environment for the supposed intruder in order to force it out of the body. However, when the body closes the windpipe in an allergic reaction to (for example) peanuts, the overreaction can harm the entire body.
A major factor that links gastrointestinal disorders with food allergies is how the immune system concentrates on the gut. Many of the immune cells in the body reside within the tissues of the digestive tract; cells that produce antibodies, which act to target and neutralize threats, also abound in the gut. Given that the food you eat is full of substances that can trigger the immune system, the digestive tract is a typical site for allergies to develop.
Oral Immunotherapy for Food Allergies
Food allergies often manifest themselves in the GI tract due to the strong presence of the immune system and the abundance of foreign materials in this part of the body. In a food allergy, the hyperactive immune response interferes with the proper functioning of digestive tissues and cells, thereby resulting in unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening symptoms.
If you have a food allergy, you need to avoid even trace amounts of the triggering food. However, oral immunotherapy, which trains your immune system to tolerate an allergen, can help reduce your symptoms and protect you from severe reactions.
Located in northeast Illinois, Oak Brook Allergists offer comprehensive diagnosis and treatment options for food allergies. If you would like to schedule an appointment, call us today at (630) 574-0460 or schedule an appointment now via our online form. We look forward to being your healthcare partner.