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Let’s Review: What is a Food Allergy

Published date: August 21, 2013 | Modified date:
by Dr Stephen Wangen

DrWangenPressPicWeb-199x300Food allergies may be one of the most prevalent health problems in our country and are certainly the biggest problem that I (Dr. Stephen Wangen) see in my clinic.

But if you’re like most of my patients, you’re probably thinking, “Not me, I don’t have a food allergy.” 
Most people think they have a pretty good idea about food allergies. They may know someone who has one and think, “My problem isn’t like theirs.” Or they may just think that food allergies normally result in hives, a rash, or some kind of medical emergency. 
In fact, food allergies can be the cause of many chronic health problems.

What Is An Allergy?

An allergy is what results when your immune system is inappropriately activated. Your immune system is designed to attack bacteria, viruses and parasites. It is not intended to attack the food you eat. But this is exactly what happens with some people. This is called a “food allergy” or “food intolerance.” 

When your immune system is activated, antibodies (also called immunoglobulins) are produced. Antibodies in turn trigger an inflammatory response.

Inflammation causes pain and tissue damage, leading to further symptoms. Increased mucous production is another aspect of an immune response. 

When a food is broken down and absorbed, it is distributed through your bloodstream to all of your tissues. Therefore an allergic reaction can occur just about anywhere in your body. 

We don’t really understand why a food allergy can exhibit itself so differently in different people. However, every individual is unique and seems to have a unique weak point where symptoms of a food allergy show up first.

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