Chapter 1: Food Allergy 101
Food allergies are complicated and they are not fully understood which is part of the reason that we don't have a cure or a way to prevent a reaction. In short, an allergy develops when the immune system recognizes the food allergen protein as a foreign invader. The body starts to produce antibodies against the allergen. The next time a food allergic patient ingests the allergen, the body recognizes the protein of the food as a foreign body and sends the antibodies to attack it. As your body is attacking the allergen, it releases a chemical called histamine which produces hives and other allergic symptoms. Sometimes the body reacts in a way that gives them hives, while others react in a way that makes them vomit. An important thing to remember is that prior allergic reactions can't be used as a way to predict a future reaction, because reaction can be worse the second time. The most severe form of food allergies is anaphylaxis which involves the swelling of the throat which can make it hard to breathe and can eventually be fatal. The only way to reverse an anaphylactic reaction is to use epinephrine. Talk to the nurse at your school about training you on how to use an epinephrine auto-injector. People can be allergic to anything but the most common food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, wheat and soy and they can develop reactions at any time. Here is a video that will help explain the science behind food allergies. You can find the guidelines mentioned in the video, below the video if you would like to download them.