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Food Allergy Basics For The Newly Diagnosed

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) published a video that provides an overview of food allergy, its impact on your body, and the steps to take to treat an allergic reaction. Sharing here to help you up the learning curve.


Watch the video!


Following is a transcription if you prefer to read:


“During an allergic reaction the immune system responds to a normally harmless substance, as if it were a threat. In some people, common foods such as milk, eggs, and peanuts can trigger such a reaction.


So how does this work?


If you have a food allergy, your immune system makes a type of antibody called immunoglobulin E, or IgE. This class of antibody binds to immune cells called mast cells and basophils that circulate throughout your body. When you are exposed to the food allergen, it attaches to the IgE antibody. This binding signals the immune cells to release histamine and other chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as swelling of the lips, hives, and shortness of breath. Because mast cells and basophils rapidly release these chemicals, an allergic reaction typically occurs within 30 minutes after exposure.


The most severe kind of reaction is called anaphylaxis, which can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, trouble breathing, dizziness, and possibly death. People with food allergy and poorly controlled asthma are more susceptible to severe reactions. An anaphylactic episode must be treated with a hormone called epinephrine, which maintains blood pressure and opens up the airways.


To deal with accidental exposure, people diagnosed with food allergy are prescribed a medical device called an autoinjector that delivers a single dose of epinephrine into the thigh muscle. Antihistamines alone are not an effective treatment for anaphylaxis. There is no cure for food allergy.


The best way to manage the condition is to avoid the allergenic food, read food labels carefully, wash hands and household surfaces, and always carry an epinephrine autoinjector. If you are accidentally exposed to a food allergen, seek medical help immediately.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, conducts and supports research to better understand, prevent and treat food allergy. In 2010, an expert panel sponsored by NIAID issued guidelines to assist healthcare professionals in diagnosing and managing the disease. These guidelines and a summary for patients, families, and caregivers can be found on the NIAID website.“



Watch the video!

video-image-food-allergy-video-from-NIAID

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat, and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. The NIAID advances the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of many of the world’s most intractable and widespread diseases such as tuberculosis and influence, HIV/AIDS, biodefense and immune-mediated diseases, including asthma and allergy. In fiscal year 2021, the NIAID budget was $6.1 billion allocated across the organization’s focus areas.

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Image Credits: Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels and NIAID video

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