Patients who are suffering from respiratory troubles such as asthma often have this questioning mind! But the fact is, we generally don’t link food allergies and asthma.
The truth is that some food allergies are not precisely what we think of!
Here in this article, we will cover the answers to all these questions in detail, along with a list of foods to avoid for asthma patients.
In This Article ...
What Is Food Allergy?
Food allergy is defined as a reaction of an immune system that mainly occurs soon after the body consumes a particular food.
This generally happens when our body identifies particular food to be harmful or allergic, thereby causing few reactions and medical symptoms in our body which need special treatment.
These particular foods that cause an allergic reaction in the body are indeed identified as allergens for these individuals.
While the reaction can be mild or uncomfortable for some people, it can be severe, intolerable, and life-threatening for others.
Types of Food Allergies, Symptoms, and Risk Factors
In most cases, an allergic reaction can be triggered even if the body consumes a small quantity of allergy-causing food.
However, depending on the type of food allergy and food intolerance level you have, doctors may recommend you to eat small amounts of problem-causing foods (if required) without causing any allergic reactions and food allergy symptoms.
Different types of food allergies that are common among patients include:
- Milk allergy
- Egg allergy
- Wheat allergy
- Peanuts allergy
- Soy allergy
- Fish allergy
- Tree nuts allergy
- Shrimp and other shellfish allergies
A few of the food allergies symptoms that are most common among patients are:
- Itching, hives, eczema, or other skin conditions
- Itchiness in the mouth or ear canal
- Sneezing and running nose
- Nausea or vomiting-like feeling
- Digestive disorders, abdominal pain, and diarrhea
- Nasal congestion, breathing troubles, dry cough, and wheezing
While the above food allergy signs and symptoms are most prevalent, there are few serious symptoms seen in individuals who have a severe food allergy.
These symptoms may include tightness in the chest or chest pain, trouble swallowing food, drop in blood pressure, dizziness and unconsciousness, etc.
Risk factors that are most of the time responsible for food allergies are:
Age: Food allergy is more commonly seen in babies and toddlers. It diminishes automatically as the kid grows older and develops a more robust digestive system.
While the minor allergies to milk, soy, eggs, or wheat are outgrown fast, severe allergies to nuts and shellfish may remain for long.
Other allergies: Your risk of suffering from a food allergy is always on the more fantastic side when you are prone to suffer from allergic reactions such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever.
Also, it is evident that if you are allergic to one kind of food, you may get an allergy to a few others slowly.
Family history: Studies reveal that small children are at increased risk of developing food allergies, especially when their family members suffer from allergies and other similar allergic conditions.
Food Allergies and Asthma: What Is The Connection?
Previously, the doctors were only aware of airborne allergies (which are often triggered by mold, mites, animal dander, etc.) that can cause asthma.
But today, it has been recognized that food allergies can also trigger asthma attacks in patients suffering from respiratory disorders.
While it is true that having food allergies does not always cause asthma, in many cases coexistence of asthma and food allergy is evident.
Studies reveal that in case asthma and food allergy exist at the same time, the symptoms of the asthma attack can be severe and life-threatening.
How Does Food Trigger Asthma Attacks?
When your body gets in contact with a particular allergy-causing food, the body’s immune system overreacts to release histamine chemicals.
This chemical is the primary factor that is responsible for showing the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
These symptoms may include sneezing, sore throat, itchy and watery eyes, itchiness of the skin, etc.
If you are suffering from asthma, this food allergy can also trigger symptoms like coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, etc.
These asthma symptoms, which are mainly triggered due to food allergies, often make it confusing for people to understand whether it is a usual asthma attack or asthma triggered due to an allergic reaction.
To get the confirmation, it is best to check with your asthma doctor.
After a few tests, they can inform you precisely about the causes of the allergic reactions and the type of food allergen you suspect to harm them.
Foods To Avoid When You Have Asthma
Although there is much best food for asthma patients known to control the symptoms, there are a few worst foods for asthma that should be avoided entirely to prevent asthma from being triggered.
In addition to most common allergy-causing foods (cow’s milk, fish, eggs, shellfish, soy, wheat, tree nuts, etc.), the list of allergic foods that trigger asthma may include:
- Dry fruits and nuts
- Sour and citrus fruits
- Instant soups and coffee
- Packaged potatoes
- Frozen shrimps
- Beer, wine, hard cider
- Pickled and spicy foods
- Fast foods, cheese, and mushrooms
Besides the above food triggers for asthma, you should avoid any such type of food which you suspect to be allergic.
According to experts, food additives such as tartrazine and artificial sweeteners like aspartame can also trigger allergic reactions and asthma symptoms in many people, even when they are not suffering from food allergies.
Benzoates, sulfites, salicylates, and MSG are also a few uncommon asthma triggers that are present in food allergens.
While you are shopping, you should carefully check these ingredients, which may be present in your food items and can cause possible allergic reactions.
The truth is, if you keep on consuming the foods that you know you are allergic to, you can be on the higher side of being suffered from triggering your asthma attacks sooner.
Is Chicken Bad For Asthma?
Foods such as chicken breast, red meat, etc., are rich in saturated fat, which can worsen the symptoms of asthma attacks.
Asthma patients, therefore, need to keep themselves away from nonvegetarian foods and dairy products to keep their lungs in good condition.
If, at times, you want to eat chicken, you can take it as a side dish in the form of chicken soup or grilled chicken (instead of frying).
Is Soy Bad for Asthma?
Soybeans are known for their potent anti-oxidants – isoflavones, which are known in past studies to diminish risks of heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer.
Realizing the potential benefits of soy for asthma, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and other organizations in the country decided to conduct a trial to examine the effect of soy elements on asthma symptoms.
The research revealed that soy compounds present in soy milk are beneficial for the health of asthma patients if taken in appropriate quantities as they can decrease the production of inflammatory elements in the bloodstream- after all, inflammation is the primary cause of asthma symptoms.
Food Allergies Treatment When You Have Asthma
First of all, to control food allergy-induced asthma, you have to be knowledgeable and avoid all those foods you are allergic to.
While shopping for your favorite food items at stores, you can read the labels to know the ingredients present.
Following this food allergy reaction treatment can be difficult at times when you are at social gatherings or dining at a restaurant, as you don’t know what hidden ingredients are used to prepare the food.
To help this out, you can ask about how the dishes are prepared and what the actual ingredients are used.
In addition, you can wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace, which will automatically let others know that you have a food allergy.
Next, you can do is to train your immune system, through immunotherapy to avoid overacting. For this, doctors usually give you allergy shots for asthma.
Allergy shots for asthma work similar to the vaccine, which contains a small amount of the allergen food content that may be causing your allergy.
When you are given repeated shots (with the dose increased over time) for a certain period, your immune system will stop causing the allergic reaction.
Your physician may also give sublingual immunotherapy, which dissolves under the tongue. It is used as an alternative to allergy shots.
Essential oils for food allergies and asthma are also recommended by doctors, which can help you in natural food allergy treatment at home.
Where peppermint oil can be used to ease the digestive tract associated with a food allergy, eucalyptus oil can be used for easing the issues related to breathing, sinuses, and respiratory troubles.
In addition to all the above, people with severe allergies should keep epinephrine injection kits always with them.
You can use this auto-injector when you experience a sign of anaphylaxis, even if the symptoms are not allergy-related.