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Can food allergies trigger asthma?

It might not be common knowledge, but there is a link between asthma and food allergies. More than one-third of children with food allergies have asthma, and around eight percent of kids with asthma have food allergies. Food allergies are considered to be a hidden asthma trigger and can cause potentially life-threatening asthma attacks. If you develop food allergies early in life, you have greater chances of developing respiratory problems such as asthma later in life. Doctors aren't sure why contact with food allergens causes asthma attacks, but it might have to do with inflammatory responses that food allergies trigger in the immune system.

Food allergies are a response by your body's immune system to a food it thinks is harmful. Symptoms of food allergies include reactions of the skin, eyes, nose, mouth, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. An asthma flare-up is one possible respiratory response. An asthma attack occurs when something triggers a hypersensitivity of the airways. Contact with food allergens is one possible trigger.

Asthma symptoms include swelling and inflammation of the airways, bronchospasm (tightening of the muscles around the airways) and clogging of the airways with mucus. It can take between six and 48 hours for an asthma attack to become serious. Warning signs include increased pulse rate, wheezing, feeling agitated and reduced ability to exhale. If you think you are having an asthma attack, get to a doctor and/or use the medication you've been prescribed. When you go to see your doctor, be prepared to tell him the circumstances surrounding your symptoms, including what foods you ate.

Since a skin prick test, in which your doctor applies a small amount of the allergen to a scratch on your skin, might cause a dangerous reaction, he is more likely to do an Immunoglobulin E (IgE) test to check for antibodies in your blood. If food allergies are confirmed, you will have to avoid contact with all allergens in order to prevent the symptoms from returning. Your doctor will probably also prescribe medication to treat your systems in case you do come into contact with an allergen or experience asthma symptoms.