Some research suggests food allergies in America are on the rise. Possibly 4 percent of the U.S. population suffer from a food allergy. Although allergies to spices are rare, an allergic reaction is possible with any spice, including curry. Because the human body responds the same to any allergen, the symptoms of an allergic reaction to curry is the same as any other allergen. Recognizing the symptoms of an allergic reaction can ensure prompt and correct treatment.
Symptoms of a Food Allergy
Most symptoms related to a food allergen happen within minutes of exposure to the offending food. The majority of reactions happen quickly, but some can occur as long as 2 hours after the food was ingested. Skin-related symptoms may include hives, itching, rash, swelling, eczema or other abnormalities. Digestive symptoms range from abdominal cramps to vomiting or diarrhea. Respiratory symptoms are the most serious and can include tingling or itching of the face, lips, tongue or airway, with or without swelling. If the airway swells, loss of consciousness, a severe drop in blood pressure, shock and death can occur.
The Immune System's Response
The immune system in the human body is designed to fight anything recognized as harmful. When an allergic reaction occurs due to food, the immune system has mistaken something in the molecular structure of the food as a foreign danger. The body's natural defense is to set off a chain reaction of events, unleashing a chemical warfare on the unwanted invader. The mast cells are part of the immune system. In an allergic response, mast cells rupture, releasing Immunoglobulin E (IgE).
How the Body Reacts
Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is an antibody, a trace serum protein associated with allergic reactions. Histamine is one of the IgE antibodies released during an allergic reaction. Mast cells are bound with tissue to multiple body systems. Therefore, when histamine is released, different body systems react. A person experiencing an allergic reaction may have one or several body systems involved. If the respiratory system responds, it can be life threatening. If swelling of the tongue or trachea are present, the possibility of suffocation is a concern. This type of reaction is called anaphylaxis and must be treated immediately to avoid death.
Because there is no cure for food allergies, it is necessary to strictly avoid all exposure to the allergen. If a patient has a curry allergy, it is imperative he avoid the spice at all times. Reading every food label and asking what ingredients were used to prepare a dish must become a way of life. If the person suffers from anaphylactic-type reactions, a physician may prescribe an injectable epinepherine pen. These pens contain the drug epinepherine and must be administered immediately to counteract the effects of the allergic reaction. A physician or other trained professional will educate the patient on how to properly administer the injection.
A recent case study found there may be a link between food allergies and pollen-food allergy syndrome, and or latex fruit-syndrome. Four physicians wrote an article describing a young woman suffering several symptoms after eating a dish containing curry. After skin and blood testing to measure IgE antibodies, it was concluded this was an immediate reaction caused by spice antigens contained in curry spice. This patient also had pollen-food allergy syndrome and a melon and latex allergy. Her IgE antibodies also reacted to birch. Ongoing research continues to bring more information to people suffering from food allergies.
- Photo Credit Melanie Maddox
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