A food allergy isn’t a simple inconvenience or a trivial issue. The potentially serious — and even life-threatening — condition affects one in an estimated 32 million people in the US, including one in every 13 kids. If you have a food allergy, proper diagnosis and treatment can go a long way toward keeping you safe and healthy. Dr. Richard Firshein is pleased to provide such care for his New York City patients.
Food allergy basics
Food allergies involve immune system overreactions. In a non-allergic body system, the immune system identifies and destroys only foreign substances like viruses and bacteria. When you have a food allergy, your immune system perceives a harmless food source as dangerous, triggering an allergic reaction.
Food allergy symptoms
Once your body perceives an allergen, you can experience a range of symptoms. The most common food-related allergic reactions include:
- Abdominal pain
- Dizziness or fainting
- Eczema, hives, or itchiness
- Itching or tingling in the mouth
- Nasal congestion
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
In the most severe cases, food allergies cause anaphylaxis, a condition characterized by tightened airways, throat swelling, breathing problems, a rapid heartbeat, and loss of consciousness. This is a life-threatening situation that requires immediate medical care.
Common food allergies
Most food allergies involve one of eight foods, in the US. These allergens include:
- Dairy products
- Tree nuts, such as Brazil nuts, pistachios, and pecans
Food allergy treatment
Food allergy treatment varies, depending on your overall health, the food or foods you’re allergic to, and the severity of your reaction. Your first care step will involve an exam, during which your provider will review your symptoms. To make the most of this exam, consider jotting down any potentially important details, such as specifics about your symptoms and how frequently they arise, in advance.
After your exam, the doctor may order medical tests. At our clinic, blood tests can be conducted on-site, potentially along with a digestive analysis. Once you’ve been properly diagnosed with a food allergy, Dr. Firshein will customize a food allergy treatment plan. This plan may include:
- Medications, such as antihistamines
- Nutritional counseling
- Trigger avoidance programs
You might also benefit from carrying an epinephrine auto-injector with you. If you should develop a severe allergic reaction, it allows you to inject life-saving medication into your body as quickly as possible.
Learn more about food allergies and food allergy treatment by calling Dr. Firshein at 212-860-0282 or requesting an appointment on our website.