Food allergies are a serious point of concern for the modern parent. Allergic reactions are wide ranging and seemingly impossible to anticipate, at least the first time. People can watch out for the most common causes (milk, egg, soy, wheat, tree nuts, fish, peanuts, and shellfish--sometimes referred to as the Big 8), but any food can potentially cause an allergic flare-up.
Allergies occur when the body mistakes an otherwise harmless irritant from food protein for a foreign invader and sets its immune system for overkill. That can be a serious problem, depending on the severity of the allergy and the intensity of the reaction. They range from mild redness and hives to deadly anaphylaxis.
If a person is concerned about a food allergy, it is important to speak to a medical professional to be diagnosed. While such allergies are a concern of which it is worth being mindful, self diagnosis brings its own problems. Not the least of these is that a wrong determination leaves the real problem unchecked.
It is easy to ignore and even mock the idea of food allergies as a serious health concern, even though some estimate that food allergies send someone new to an emergency in the United States every three minutes. Some experts claim that there are 100-200 deaths annually in the U.S. Consider also that food allergy diagnoses have only increased in recent years--allergies account for an incredible amount of health care expenditures in the United States.
Allergies have become such a pervasive problem, that three years ago FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) went from dubbing the second week of May Food Allergy Awareness Week to naming a Food Allergy Action Month for the entirety of May. This year, join the fight to advance awareness of food allergies.