In recent years, more and more individuals the world over have discovered an allergy they either did not previously have or of which they were not aware before. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 4-6 percent of children in the United States now have food allergies. The figure is the same for adults in America. Many factors contribute to this growing affliction.

Contributing Factors

The environment, as well as dietary and exercise habits, can each influence the development of food-related and other allergies. Dust mites, animal dander, ragweed and gluten or dairy allergies are among the most commonly known offenders. Doctor Stephan Meller, an allergist at the Dusseldorf University Clinic, claims that the reasons for the increase in allergies among people of all ages are multifaceted and complex.

Allergies affect millions all around the globe and there is no cure, though symptoms may be treated in many cases. Currently, the only means to prevent a reaction is to avoid the allergens entirely. Knowledge of what will elicit an overactive immune response (an allergy symptom) is the first line of defense.

The Importance of Labeling

Proper and thorough labeling of all food product packaging is absolutely necessary for those suffering from allergies. Ingredients such as fish, gluten, milk, eggs, nuts, soya and others in this vein are among the most frequent irritants. Because of how commonplace each of these is, restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries and similar places of business would have to make a concerted effort to increase transparency, which is easier (and more cheaply) said than done.

Confusion May Result

Of course, not all establishments are capable of providing detailed accounts of their every product’s every ingredient. Examples might include smaller, “mom and pop” restaurants and grocers. Fresh bread made in-house could contain any number of allergens capable of producing a reaction, including hives, swelling around or in the mouth, dizziness, sweating, stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. In worse cases, potentially fatal anaphylactic shock may result.

Without proper diagnosis, this wide range of diverse reactions can be mistaken as being caused by source other than food. The scope and nature of allergic reactions also depends on the age of the individual. Babies, for instance, are very often allergic to cow’s milk and chicken’s eggs. Young children can develop an intolerance of fish, nuts and wheat, while adults and teenagers are usually more susceptible to raw fruit and vegetable allergies. Spices and nuts commonly affect the latter category as well.

Sometimes Exercise is Risky

Another, even more perplexing form of allergy has been documented recently. The exact causes of Wheat Dependent Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis (WDEIA) are uncertain, but the occurrence of cases is growing in frequency. What is known at this point is the link between exercise and the genesis of this strange type of food allergy. Occasionally, those who eat bread and follow-up the meal with a bout of exercise may suddenly find themselves intolerant to wheat the next time they eat it. This affliction is as bizarre as it is increasingly common.

The world of allergies and their symptoms and causes can be a confusing and alarming place. Fortunately, many different types of effective treatments are available. Visiting Atlanta ENT’s food allergies page could be the first step toward a safer, more aware future.