It’s no secret that food allergies are on the rise. But while about 20 per cent of people like to believe they have food allergies, only three to ten per cent have medically diagnosed allergies. And for this small proportion of our nation, their allergies are not just life-threatening, but it also impacts on the day-to-day quality of their lives.
Serious allergy sufferers live under the constant threat of severe allergic reactions (also referred to as anaphylaxis), and they always must be ready to respond to these reactions. And it’s not just the allergy sufferers who live with this fear, but also their loved ones and caregivers, who must be on the lookout for any dangers and be ready to assist in the event anaphylaxis.
Dire financial implications
In addition to living in fear, the financial implications of a food allergy can also be dire for every member of the household. Food allergy diets can easily increase household expenditure by up to 20%.
As a parent, I find the psychological and physical impact of severe allergies on kids particularly concerning. These kids often fall victim to bullying because they are “different”, and the isolation and constant fear of a fatal allergic reaction – especially from their parents – can cause long-term emotional damage. On the physical front, strict elimination diets can cause serious nutritional deficiencies, leading to developmental delays as well as long term, physiological damage.
By seeking specialised treatment for you or your loved one’s allergy, you may significantly improve your quality of life.
A food challenge might just be the answer
One of the ways we treat allergies is through food challenges. This is when the “dangerous” food is given to the patient under safe and controlled circumstances so that we can evaluate if the patient has outgrown the allergy (something which often happens), or to confirm if the allergy still is there.
Patients can also undergo oral tolerance induction treatments to see if we can overcome their allergies.
Some of the symptoms caused by food allergies include, but are not limited to the following
- Skin rash (urticarial/hives);
- Swelling of face, body and tongue (angioedema);
- Chest closing or throat closing (wheezing, stridor);
- Vomiting and diarrhoea;
- And later loss of consciousness.
In some instances, more than one of the above-listed symptoms can present in different degrees of severity.
There also are allergies that can cause more subtle symptoms, such as a salicylate allergy, Coeliac disease and non-Coeliac gluten sensitivity.
The diagnosis of food allergies should always be made by a trained healthcare professional. This will ensure an accurate diagnosis, as well as a treatment plan that is reviewed once or twice a year.
Contact us for an appointment if you would like to get to the bottom of you or your loved one’s allergy.
- The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of allergies and the treatment options that are available for it. This article should by no means be used, or viewed, as a primary source for medical advice – please arrange for a personal consultation with your medical practitioner before taking any decisions that could affect the wellbeing of you or your loved ones. Read our medical disclaimer for more information.
© 2018 | Dr Marinda McDonald | Practice number 0015393 | All rights reserved