Can Food Allergies Be Treated?

Like any other allergy, a food allergy develops when your body’s immune system mistakes an innocuous material for a harmful invader. Your immune system builds antibodies against that material, which leads to the allergy symptoms you may experience. Unlike many allergies, food allergies are one group that has the potential to be dangerous; allergies to foods such as nuts can lead to anaphylaxis, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. For most people, living with food allergies means totally avoiding the food that triggers the reaction; peanut allergy sufferers cannot eat any products that contain peanuts, for example. But can food allergies be treated? Like most allergies, it depends on the severity of the allergy and method of treatment. Remember to consult your doctor (or your child’s pediatric allergy doctor, if your child is the one with allergies) before attempting to treat any allergy.

For mild allergies, over-the-counter treatments can work. For example, a mild allergy from eating shellfish might cause you to break out in hives. But taking Benadryl or similar antiistamines might alleviate the symptoms and make you more comfortable. If your allergies cause you to break out in an itchy rash, an oral or topical steroid cream may help alleviate the symptoms and speed up healing.

Unfortunately, for severe allergies that risk causing anaphylaxis, your best bet for treatment after exposure is to have an Epi-Pen with you at all times. An Epi-Pen is a device that’s filled with Epinephrine (Adrenaline), which can counteract the life-threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis long enough for you to reach a hospital for further care. Once at the hospital, additional drugs will be administered for treatment, such as steroids, anti-histamines, and asthma medications if needed.

As with anything allergy related, speak with your doctor or allergist for allergy treatement recommendations for your specific allergies. Your doctor may also be able to recommend allergy shots, or other ways of potentially desensitizing you to allergens

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