Food allergies: Recognizing and treating symptoms

 Food allergies can exist against a wide variety of foods. Children in particular often suffer from food allergies, for example to chicken protein or cow's milk. But eating certain foods, such as hazelnuts , soybeans or apples, can also cause allergic reactions in adults. But what are the different types of food allergies, what are the causes and symptoms and how can you treat a food allergy?

Two types of food allergies

There are basically two types of food allergies. What they have in common is that the immune system reacts to certain proteins as if it were a foreign body that it is trying to fight with certain reactions (such as itching, sneezing or coughing). There are two types of food allergies, isolated food allergies and cross allergies.

Isolated food allergy

In the case of an isolated food allergy, so-called IgE antibodies are formed against certain proteins contained in the respective food. As a result, an allergic reaction occurs. Isolated food allergies are rather rare, some types occur mainly in childhood.

Examples of particularly common food allergies are:

milk protein allergy

chicken protein allergy

wheat allergy

soy allergy

nut allergy

There is no connection with an existing allergy to pollen or other allergy-causing substances in the case of an isolated food allergy - in contrast to a cross-allergy.

cross allergies

In the case of a cross-allergy, the affected person reacts allergically to certain pollen or other substances such as latex or house dust mite excrement. If a food contains a protein that is similar to this allergenic substance, she will also have an allergic reaction to it. So-called pollen-associated food allergies are particularly common in the context of hay fever.

Common cross allergies include:

Allergic reactions to nuts in grass pollen allergy

Allergic reaction to stone fruit in birch pollen allergy

Allergic reaction to crustaceans in house dust mite fecal allergy 

Food intolerances are not allergies

Distinguishing between these two types is food intolerance. This usually manifests itself as indigestion. The reason for this is the lack of or defects in enzymes that enable the body to process certain foods. Defects in what are known as transporters can also mean that food cannot be fully ingested. A well-known example of a food intolerance is lactose intolerance.

There are also foods that have a pharmacological effect and can cause symptoms in some people if consumed in excess of a certain amount. An example of this is glutamate .

Food allergies: symptoms

The symptoms of the different food allergies hardly differ. Usually it comes to:

Rash and/or hives


runny nose and sneezing

Itchy eyes and watery eyes

nausea and vomiting

bloating and diarrhea

Inflammation of the mucous membranes in the stomach and intestines

swelling of the mucous membranes of the mouth

shortness of breath and asthma

In the worst case, contact with the food allergens can lead to anaphylactic shock with a drop in blood pressure, the formation of edema and potentially narrowing of the airways.

If such a severe allergic reaction occurs, the emergency call should be called immediately, otherwise the cardiovascular system may fail. People with severe food allergies should therefore always carry an emergency kit with them.

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