Swelling that typically accompanies hives and may result in welts (particularly on the face and around the eyes), stomachache (if the selling is in the intestines), or restricted or obstructed breathing (due to swelling in the airway).
A good-guy protein that your body releases to attack what your immune system perceives as a threatening intruder. Unfortunately, when you have a food allergy, your body produces antibodies to perfectly harmless foods.
An allergy treatment that consists of IgG antibodies that bind with the IgE antibodies. IgG renders the IgE powerless and unable to trigger the massive release of histamines, which cause most symptoms. This therapy is still in the testing phase.
Medication that prevents the body’s release of histamine during an allergic reaction from affecting the tissues. Antihistamines do not stop the reaction but prevent the reaction from triggering some symptoms.
An antihistamine that’s one of the more effective medications in treating food allergy reactions. In the event of a severe reaction, however, Benadryl may not be effective, and epinephrine is required.
A steroid-based medication, such as prednisone, that can help prevent a recurrence of symptoms in the hours following a severe reaction and prevent late reactions, but that don’t work rapidly enough to provide immediate relief.
A situation in which a safe food is tainted with allergens from an unsafe food. Cross contamination can occur when a safe food is manufactured on the same equipment as an unsafe food, when safe food is prepared or served with tainted utensils, or when an unsafe food drops, splashes, or splatters into a safe food.
A persistent rash that is characterized by extreme dryness and itching of the skin and may or may not be caused by a food allergy. When food allergy is involved, the condition is commonly referred to as atopic dermatitis.
A chronic inflammation in the GI tract, sometimes localized and sometimes involving the entire GI tract. Eosinophilic gastroenteritis may or may not be related to food allergy and when it is, it’s usually not IgE-mediated. See also Eosinophilic esophagitis and IgE-mediated food allergy.
An allergy test that consists of the patient consuming the food that the patient is suspected of being allergic to. Food challenges should be performed only under a qualified doctor’s supervision and with emergency medications and equipment readily available.
Irritation or inflammation of the esophagus often caused by stomach acid backing up on the esophagus. Food allergy plays a role in up to one-third of cases of GERD in infants and may be the sole cause of the reflux in these cases.
A treatment still in the testing phase that’s designed to re-train the immune system to function properly by ramping up its response to disease-causing organisms and cranking down its response to food allergens.
A substance that your body produces during an allergic reaction that triggers the most symptoms, including runny nose, swelling, hives, and rashes. Histamine swells the blood vessels and makes them highly permeable.
A condition in which enough histamine is ingested to produce symptoms very similar to those that appear during an allergic reaction. Several foods, including strawberries, chocolate, wine, and beer, may contain enough histamines to cause allergy-like symptoms.
A theory that attributes the increasing incidence of food allergies in more developed countries over the past 20 years to the fact that people in developed countries are more obsessed with proper hygiene. The theory proposes that the less the immune system is exposed to germs and bacterial by-products the more energy it has to unleash on allergens.
A food allergy in which the immune system produces IgE antibodies that trigger symptoms. Doctors can test the levels of IgE in your system to determine the likelihood that you’re actually allergic to a specific food. See also Non-IgE-mediated food allergy.
The body’s defense system against bacteria, viruses, and anything else it identifies as an enemy invader. Unfortunately for those with food allergies, the immune system identifies one or more foods as harmful.
One of your body’s antibodies that the immune system commonly releases during its overreaction to an allergenic food. Allergists often test for the presence of IgE in order to diagnose or rule out an allergy to a particular substance.
Any of various treatments designed to make the immune system more tolerant of allergens. Immunotherapy often consists of exposing the immune system to gradually increasing doses of the allergen over time.
A food allergy in which symptoms are not triggered by the presence of higher than normal concentrations of IgE antibodies. Non-IgE-mediated food allergies typically produce symptoms that appear more gradually and last longer, such as gastro-intestinal problems.
A treatment study in which researchers and patients know who’s receiving treatment and who’s not. Because everyone is aware of what’s going on, results may be influenced by the placebo effect. See also Double-blind test and Single blind test.
A reaction restricted to the lips and mouth and is characterized by itching (sometimes severe) and swelling (usually mild). Oral allergy syndrome is most often caused by allergies to fresh fruits and vegetables in people with severe pollen allergies.
Beneficial bacteria, such as those found in yogurt, that may optimize the functioning of the immune system, improving its ability to defend the body against harmful bacteria and viruses while decreasing its tendency to overreact to food allergens.
An assemblage of amino acid chains that’s present in foods and throughout the body. Foods that cause allergic reactions commonly contain proteins that the immune system mistakenly identifies as dangerous.
Short for radioallergosorbent test, RAST is a blood test that helps diagnose the presence of IgE antibodies to specific foods. RASTs can help your doctor identify or rule out particular food allergies, but RAST results are not always conclusive. (Sometimes referred to as called the CAP-RAST or ImmunoCap test, which are the RASTs that have been best tested for the diagnosis of food allergy.)
A treatment approach that consists of avoiding certain foods or food groups on a temporary basis. Rotation diets are not considered a primary treatment for people with food allergies, especially those who experience severe reactions.
A treatment study in which researchers know who’s receiving treatment and who’s not, but the patients don’t. Because the researcher may unknowingly communicate, through body language, who’s getting treatment and who’s not, single-blind testing may also be influenced by the placebo effect. See also Double-blind test and Open test.
A substance found in relatively high concentrations in some wines and food additives, including MSG (monosodium glutamate), that can cause chemical reactions in the body that produce symptoms very similar to those that appear in allergic reactions.