If you need any more proof that nature hates you, think of the last time your boyfriend got you chocolates with hazelnut. Now think of the time you took a bite off the chocolate and ended up coughing your lungs out. Remember? Yep, nature hates you and allergy is a bitch. Allergies are very common and people can be allergic to all sorts of things, even the ones in the environment, medication, and supplements. You can have these allergies since childhood or might catch one as you grow older. Some of these might be food allergies that are likely to last throughout adulthood. However, you can outgrow some of these allergies.
What Factors Are Involved In Outgrowing Childhood Allergies?
Children who are allergic to egg, soy or milk are more likely to outgrow their allergies. The likelihood of outgrowing allergies are significantly lower if the allergens are peanuts, tree nuts or shellfish.
Experts have conducted several studies to understand how food allergies develop and have explored different factors to predict whether or not a child will be able to outgrow an allergy.
Some of the common factors are –
1. Food Proteins –
Researchers are analysing how allergenic proteins with different structures holds on to cells and cause reactions. Some food proteins are more resistant than others and cannot be easily denatured, hence, making them more allergenic. Hence, it becomes essential to identify the type of protein that is causing the allergic reaction to determine if children will outgrow food allergies.
2. Induced Tolerance –
The most common strategy used for protection against allergic reactions is to avoid allergenic foods. However, this may eliminate the possibility of natural immunotherapy. Natural immunotherapy is the process whereby children are exposed to low levels of allergens in order to build tolerance for that particular allergen. While some researchers have concluded that children who are consistently exposed to the allergen outgrow certain allergies quickly, others have observed that natural immunotherapy had to be discontinued immediately as the subjects exhibited adverse allergic reactions.
3. Multiple Food Allergies –
Children who are allergic to only one food show high levels of tolerance and exhibit only mild to moderate reactions when induced by allergens. On the other hand, toddlers with multiple food allergies exhibit lesser tolerance and have severe reactions. Children exhibiting multiple allergy syndromes outgrow their allergies less frequently.
4. Conducting Allergy Tests
A new test called the “Food Challenge” has been introduced to ascertain if a person can tolerate the food they once had an allergic reaction to. The test is being studied for determining its effectiveness
Usually, doctors conduct two types only blood test and skin prick test to diagnose food allergies. The blood test measures the immunoglobulin E (IgE). A person is likely to have an allergic reaction if the IgE levels are high. Hence, these tests only establish the measure of sensitization. This means that the doctors are only able to tell you the degree to which you might react to the food.
Hence, this is where the oral food challenge comes into the picture, where the only way you can confirm with surety if a person is allergic to a certain food or not is by eating it. The tests are conducted under the strict medical supervision and include consuming small quantities of the food that you were once allergic to. If you have not shown an allergic reaction for 20 minutes or so, you are administered the bigger dose of the same food. If there still isn’t any reaction, it means you have outgrown your allergy.
The Food Challenge has become a gold standard test to for ruling out allergies and has helped in opening up a diet for people who have spent years avoiding food they thought they were allergic to.