More people suffer from a protein allergy than any other kind of general food allergy. Individuals need to strictly watch what they eat in order to avoid possibly fatal consequences.
An allergic reaction is when the body has a strong immune response to an allergen. When the allergen comes into contact with antibodies in the body, the immune system overreacts and works quickly to clear out the “invader.” This hypersensitivity can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from a simple rash to complete anaphylactic shock. There are many different types of allergies such as food, pollen, dust, and pet dander. Food allergies can be some of the most dangerous because it is not always easy to tell if a meal has a problem ingredient or not. Many people suffering food allergies have a protein allergy. This condition is much more common in children than in adults, but allergy-free adults can sometimes develop a hypersensitive reaction.
Having a protein allergy means that a person cannot consume a specific type of protein. There are a large variety of proteins throughout the food world. Some of the most common foods that result in a protein allergy are nuts, shellfish, milk, and legumes. Meat allergies are fairly uncommon while allergies to dairy products are some of the most common.
Depending on the type of contact with the specific protein and the severity of the reaction, a person may see the following symptoms:
- Stomach issues– Stomach pains, nausea, and vomiting are common for ingested allergens.
- Itching– Any part of the body may start itching. If the food product is consumed, the lips, mouth, and throat can take on an itchy feeling. Rashes or eye irritations can also lead to itchiness. Try applying an anti-itch cream, using eye drops, or taking an allergy medication.
- Skin– The skin may develop hives or rashes which are often red and itchy. In some cases, the hive might simply appear with no pain or itchiness associated. The skin irritation will often fade after a short amount of time.
- Eyes– A person may experience dry, itchy, red, water, or otherwise irritated eyes. They can be treated with eye drops or anti-histamine medications depending on the cause. This is an extremely common symptom of seasonal allergies.
- Digestive system– Digestive problems can clearly identify a food group that should be avoided. Severe diarrhea, cramping, and irritable bowel syndrome can result from a protein allergy.
- Nose– A runny nose and sneezing can take place when exposed to an irritant.
- Swelling– Parts of the face or other parts of the body may experience severe swelling. Throat swelling and constriction of airways can lead to breathing difficulty.
Living with Protein Allergies
Because it is normally children with a protein allergy, it is often the responsibility of the parent to watch what the child eats. It is also important to educate children on what foods should be avoided. You and your family will become experts on checking ingredient lists and avoiding possible problem foods. In many cases, it is still possible to get all necessary nutrients from other types of protein containing items. People with severe allergic reactions will need to have an epi-pen on hand in case the food is accidently ingested. The dose of epinephrine will help stave off anaphylactic shock and will open up airways.