Growing up, I can’t remember allergies being such a huge topic. I lucked out and so far have not developed any allergies. However, Today almost everyone you talk to has an allergy. Even the schools have developed guidelines for allergies. So since this has become a “hot topic”, it has made me ask – What exactly is an allergy? How does one develop a allergy? Are allergies preventable?
1 _ What is an allergy? it is a reaction of the immune system fighting a foreign substance within our body. The immune system develops antibodies – which attack the foreign substance. An allergic reaction is the fight between the foreign substance and the immune system. During this fight, symptoms such as hives, swelling or breathing difficulties arise.
2 – How do food allergies develop? When food is eaten, sometimes the immune system detects a substance as being harmful. Therefore, the antibody is produced to attack this once innocent substance. This antibody then travels to the bloodstream and attach’s to cells closest to the surface to help prevent a further invasion. The next time this specific food product is eaten, an antibody attaches to the foriegn subtance and sends it to the skins cells where it causes a powerful chemical reaction. This causes the release of a chemical called – histamine. Histamine is responsible for fighting against foriegn substances and cause inflammation. When people are talking about their allergic reactions – hives, breathing difficulties, etc. they are talking about histamine. Therefore, this is why we are told to take an anti-histamine (claritin or reactine) to help lessen the allergic reaction. Or in more severe cases, use an epi-pen.
3 – Can food allergies be prevented? research is showing, yes allergies can be prevented and it is not hard to do. To prevent allergies in children all one has to do is avoid specific foods until further development has occured. Mostly, research is saying to avoid the solid foods at a young age. Here are some food to avoid until a certain age:
- cows milk’s, dairy products and egg products (avoid between 12 and 24 months of age)
- tree nuts, peanuts and fish (avoid before 36 months)
Health Canada is always a great site to check for the latest developments on allergies.