Tummy trouble? You may have food allergies. A lot of people limp along with symptoms that resemble Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) when they could get relief from food allergy treatment. One of the most common symptoms of food allergy is gastrointestinal distress, including cramps, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and even vomiting.
The most common food allergies stem from the “Big 8” foods: wheat, soy, rice, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, and nuts. In addition to digestive problems, allergies to these foods can cause a number of symptoms including:
- Eczema and hives
- Hay fever (runny or stuffed up nose, sinus problems)
- Itching or swelling of the mouth and throat
Food allergies occur when the body mistakes proteins in food for harmful germs or bacteria. The immune system reacts by releasing chemicals such as histamine. Histamine can wreak havoc on the gut, inflaming the gastrointestinal tract, bogging down the digestive process, causing painful cramps, and more.
If you suspect food allergies, you can consult your allergy doctor (allergist). They can order an allergy test kit to see which foods you are most sensitive to. You can then avoid the trigger foods, but this can be difficult if you are allergic to common foods. Staying away from staples like milk and wheat, for example, can make mealtime tricky.
Another option is to seek treatment using immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is the only treatment that has been shown to change the underlying allergy. Subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) has been used for a long time to treat pollen allergies, but it doesn’t work well as a food allergy treatment program. Sublingual immunotherapy, on the other hand, has been shown to be effective in diminishing the effects of food allergies.
Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) came on the scene in the mid-1980s. It works a lot like allergy shots except that the allergen extracts are taken as liquid droplets under the tongue instead of being injected into the skin. Oral versions of immunotherapy made big headlines a few years ago when Duke University successfully used them to desensitize kids to peanut allergens.
If you are tired of living with gastrointestinal distress, contact your allergy physician about a food allergy test kit and a potential food allergy treatment program, which can offer wheat, nut, and milk allergy treatment.