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Food allergies are an important cause of illness in both children and adults. The number of people suffering from food allergies has increased over the last 20 years.
There are two basic types of food allergies, immediate and delayed.They are also referred to as “obvious” and “hidden” allergies. If someone is exposed to a food and has a reaction instantly or within several hours, it is then considered an “immediate” food allergy.
Sometimes a person will eat a food and not experience any symptoms for hours or even until the next day. This is considered a “delayed” food allergy.
There are two primary antibodies within us that cause food allergies. One is IgE and the other is IgG. Immediate food allergies are caused by the IgE antibody; delayed are caused by the IgG antibody. For the allergic patient, a harmless allergen is introduced to their system, but these antibodies mistake the allergen (food in this case) as a harmful substance. This improper recognition triggers a reaction often resulting in symptoms such as irritable bowels, nausea, stomach pain, headaches, hives, rashes, hyperactivity, inattention, nervousness, depression or even anaphylaxis which can be life threatening.
It is estimated that 3-5% of food allergies are caused by the IgE antibody and that approximately 50% are attributed to IgG antibodies. It is also estimated that IgG4 is responsible for most of the food allergies caused by the “G” antibody. IgG4 against foods indicates that the person has been repeatedly exposed to food proteins recognized as foreign by the immune system. Physicians sometimes perform IgE and IgG4 testing to be thorough.
A person may be able to eat a food they are allergic to occasionally and suffer no symptoms. However, if a person eats the food daily or several times a day, their tolerance can become compromised and symptoms may occur. A common trait of people that have food allergies will crave the food(s) they are most
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