Food Allergies: Reducing the Risk (Consumer Update)

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , /

This “Consumer Update” is
brought to you by the U.S. Food & Drug
Administration. An estimated 150 to 200
Americans die each year because of allergic
reactions to food. Food allergies affect
about two percent of adults and four to eight
percent of children in the United States. According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, children with
food allergies are more likely to have
asthma, eczema, and other allergies. Studies have shown that
the severity of food allergies can change
throughout a person’s life and some can
even be outgrown. There is no cure
for food allergies. The best way to protect
yourself is by avoiding any food that will
cause a reaction. To reduce the risk from
allergic reactions, FDA is working to ensure
that major allergy-causing ingredients in food
are labeled accurately. In addition, many
manufacturers are voluntarily using advisory
labels on products that might contain ingredients
that cause allergic reactions due
to cross contact in the manufacturing process. A food intolerance is often confused with a food allergy. A food intolerance is the
body’s abnormal reaction to a food, but in a way
that does not involve the immune system. On the other hand, a food
allergy is triggered by an immune response.
When comparing the two, a food allergy poses
a much greater health risk than a food
intolerance. Symptoms of a food
allergy include: Hives, itching or skin rash;
Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or
other parts of the body; Wheezing, nasal congestion
or trouble breathing; Abdominal pain, diarrhea,
nausea or vomiting; And dizziness,
lightheadedness or fainting. In severe cases, symptoms
can be life-threatening. If you have
food allergies, you must be prepared for
unintentional exposure. Wear a medical alert
bracelet stating that you have a food allergy. Carry an auto-injector
device that you can give to yourself
if you have a food allergic reaction. Call 911 or go to the
emergency room immediately if you have a food
allergic reaction, even if you’ve given
yourself adrenaline. For more information on this
and other health topics, visit FDA.GOV/CONSUMER

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