Relief from Food Allergies
Food allergies in our country are approaching epidemic proportions. Researchers estimate that more than 30 million Americans suffer from food allergies.
At Oak Brook Allergists in northeast Illinois, we are evaluating more and more pediatric patients with a suspected food allergy. The average elementary school classroom with have two students with the potential of having a life-threatening reaction to common foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, and egg. While it is most common for allergies to develop in early childhood, it is quite possible for new reactions to foods to occur in the adult population as well.
A food allergy is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management. Currently, there is no cure for a food allergy, but there is emerging treatment that can help prevent reactions to accidental exposure.
Understand Your Food Allergy
An allergic reaction to food involves a systemic response by the body’s immune system, which is designed to protect you against infection and disease. With allergies, however, your body sees a typically harmless foreign substance as a threat. For instance, if you have an allergy to cow’s milk, your immune system identifies cow’s milk as being harmful and overreacts by producing antibodies that attack the substance with an inflammatory response.
Most Common Food Allergens
- Cow’s milk
- Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachio, hazelnuts)
- Fish and shellfish
Symptoms of a food allergy almost always include an itchy, red rash or hives. Other symptoms may appear as well, including swelling of lips and tongue, a runny nose or congestion, nausea, vomiting, coughing, and wheezing. The big fear with food allergies is anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening allergic reaction that involves multiple organ systems, and in its most severe form can cause swelling of the airway that compromises your ability to breathe, and can also lead to symptoms of shock due to low blood pressure. These symptoms typically occur within minutes of allergen exposure.
Risk factors for a food allergy include a personal or family history of hay fever, asthma, eczema, or any allergic disease.
Food Allergy Testing & Treatment in Will County & DuPage County, IL
The providers at Oak Brook Allergists are leading experts in the Chicago area in the diagnosis and treatment of many different types of food allergies.
We begin with a thorough history, which is the most important aspect of a food allergy diagnosis. Allergy testing will help pinpoint the precise type of food allergy involved, but a positive test alone does not confirm a diagnosis of food allergy. For this reason, it is important to be evaluated by a specialist if there is concern regarding a food allergy. If a true diagnosis is established, our knowledgeable and compassionate team will work with you to develop a customized food allergy action plan to help ensure as healthy, safe, and as normal of a lifestyle as possible for you and your loved ones.
Food allergies are most common in early childhood and are on the rise, but it is now known that early introduction of common food allergens into the diet may help to prevent food allergy development. Oak Brook Allergists can help parents develop a strategy for early introduction of allergenic foods in higher-risk infants.
Because food allergies can change over time, it is important to follow-up regularly with an allergist for any modifications to your medications or other treatment approaches. There are also steps that can prevent additional food allergies from developing we well as methods of developing tolerance to certain food allergens such as eggs and milk. An allergist will look for signs that a patient might be outgrowing their food allergy (this occurs in 20% of patients with peanut allergies, for instance) and determine appropriate times to consider an in-office oral food challenge.
In addition to avoidance strategies and medications such as epinephrine auto-injectors and oral antihistamines, oral immunotherapy offers a new approach in managing food allergies due to its ability to prevent potentially life-threatening allergic reactions that occur through unintentional allergen exposures.
Don’t take any chances when it comes to food allergies. Make sure to establish a firm diagnosis and get the care you need from the specialists at Oak Brook Allergists in northeast Illinois. Call us at (630) 574-0460 or request an appointment now.