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What is a food allergy?

We all hear about increasing allergies to peanuts and other foods, but what does that mean exactly?

Well in allergy, we split allergic reactions into 4 classes of hypersensitivities, labeled I-IV. Usually, when describing a food allergy, we are talking about a type I hypersensitivity.

Essentially, the body felt “threatened” by a substance within the food, and created an antibody against it (called IgE). This antibody works like a heat-seeking missile towards the food someone developed an allergy to.

If a person eats the food again, these IgEs are activated and activate the immune system to “attack” the substance. However the immune system “overreacts” causing collateral damage. The damage depends on the severity of the allergy. Food allergies tend to range from mild to severe and life-threatening -> so its important to have medical support when dealing with these allergies.

Treatment options vary from carrying an EpiPen and avoidance to attempting desensitization.

Author
Dr. Waseem Imam Dr. Imam is board certified in several fields, including Allergy, Asthma, Immunology, Internal Medicine, and Obesity Medicine. His main focus is Allergies, Asthma, and Food allergies.

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