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 exactly 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 certain food.
This generally happens when our body identifies certain food to be harmful or allergic thereby causing few reactions and medical symptoms in our body which needs special treatment.
These particular foods which cause an allergic reaction in the body are certainly identified as allergens for these types of individuals.
While for some people, the reaction can be mild or uncomfortable; 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 a small quantity of allergy-causing food is consumed by the body.
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 chest or chest pain, trouble swallowing food, drop in blood pressure, dizziness and unconsciousness, etc.
Risk factors that are most of the times responsible for food allergies are:
Age: Food allergy is more commonly seen in babies and toddlers. The good thing is it diminishes automatically as the kid grows older and develops a stronger digestive system.
While the minor allergies to milk, soy, eggs, or wheat are outgrown fast, severe allergies to nuts and shellfish may remain there for long.
Other allergies: Your risk of suffering from a food allergy is always on the greater side when you are prone to suffer from allergic reactions such as asthma, eczema, and hay fever.
Also, it is obvious that if you are allergic to one kind of food, you may get an allergy to few others slowly.
Family history: Studies reveal that small children are at increased risk of developing food allergies, especially when their family members suffered from food 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 for patients suffering from respiratory disorders.
While it is true that having food allergies does not always cause asthma, but 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 immune system of the body overreacts to release histamine chemicals.
This chemical is the major 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.
Now, if you are suffering from asthma, this food allergy can also trigger symptoms like coughing, wheezing, difficulty in 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 let you know exactly about the causes of the allergic reactions and the type of food allergen you are suspecting to do them harm.
Foods To Avoid When You Have Asthma
Although there is much best food for asthma patients known to control the symptoms, there are few worst foods for asthma that should be completely avoided for preventing 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 to.
According to experts, food additives such as tartrazine and artificial sweeteners like aspartame can also trigger allergic reactions along with asthma symptoms in many people, even when they are not suffering from food allergies.
Benzoates, sulfites, salicylates, and MSG are also 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 as well as 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 strong 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 major 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 for knowing 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 are the real ingredients 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 time 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 food allergy treatment at home naturally.
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.