Approximately 32 million people in the United States have food allergies. A food allergy occurs when a person’s immune system overreacts to a food, identifying it as a threat and triggering a defensive response.
While there is no cure for food allergies, they can be managed with treatment and prevention.
Severe food allergy reactions can be life-threatening and often require immediate medical attention, but mild reactions can usually be treated with home remedies.
In this article, we will discuss home remedies to help treat mild food allergies.
Food Sensitivity vs Food Allergy
Food sensitivity or food intolerance is a condition caused by the digestive system. It causes unpleasant but not life-threatening gastrointestinal symptoms. In contrast, food allergy is a potentially life-threatening condition where a person’s immune system perceives a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing allergic symptoms.
Home remedies for mild reactions
The best way to avoid the unpleasant symptoms of a food allergy is to avoid food completely. However, if you experience a mild reaction after coming into contact with a food you are allergic to, you can try the following remedies to help relieve symptoms naturally.
Ginger tea is used to treat many ailments, including nausea and digestive problems. It remains a popular home remedy for relieving indigestion and fighting inflammation.
Ginger is believed to help speed up digestion, which may benefit those with stomach discomfort and indigestion caused by trigger foods. It can also prevent gas and reduce bloating and cramps.
According to sinus experts, inhaling the steam of ginger tea can also help relieve nasal congestion.
You can make ginger tea by boiling peeled or grated ginger in water.
Imbalanced bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, also known as dysbacteriosisbelieved to play a role in many chronic conditions, including food allergies.
While more research is needed, many studies show that probiotics provide healthy bacteria to repopulate the gut, which may help prevent food allergies.
Foods rich in probiotics include:
- Sour cabbage
In addition, you can discuss taking probiotic supplements with your health care provider.
Antihistamines are over-the-counter medications used to reduce the symptoms of mild allergies. They work by reducing or blocking chemicals (histamines) that your body releases when it comes into contact with an allergen.
Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is often the most popular antihistamine used to treat food allergies because it starts working fairly quickly (15-60 minutes) and is easy to find in stores. Zyrtec (cetirizine) is also a promising treatment option as it provides symptom relief with less drowsiness than Benadryl.
Lemons are rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps maintain a strong immune system and protects against infection and disease.
One earlier study found that long-term lemon consumption reduced symptoms such as sneezing and watery eyes associated with severe allergic rhinitis.
You can cut a lemon, put it in water and drink it throughout the day, or squeeze the juice from one or two lemons and dilute it with water to get the potential benefits of lemons.
Green tea is rich in antioxidants and can help fight inflammation. Some studies suggest that it may also inhibit mast cell activation and block histamines.
Quercetin, a flavonoid found in green tea, can help stabilize histamine-releasing cells in the body, resulting in an antihistamine effect. It also has other potential health benefits, such as protection against heart disease and cancer.
In addition, animal studies show that quercetin may help control peanut allergies.
In addition to relieving stomach discomfort, ginger blocks histamine. It’s also good for your immune function.
Some scientists believe that ginger extract may be as effective as claritin (loratadine) in treating nasal symptoms and improving quality of life in people with allergic rhinitis.
Ginger can be used dried, powdered, fresh or dried. It is also a great addition to many dishes and juices.
Carrot juice is a rarer home remedy used to relieve allergy symptoms. However, it is full of nutrients, containing carotenoids, potassium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that increases the number and activity of immune cells. Vitamins A and C can protect immune cells from free radical damage and support a strong immune system.
Although carrot juice is beneficial, drinking it in large amounts can lead to carotenemia, which can cause the skin to turn slightly yellowish.
If you keep noticing that a particular food is causing you a reaction, your best bet is to stop eating it. Since symptoms may vary from one exposure to another, making it impossible to predict the severity of the next reaction, do not attempt to eat the food again.
While more research is needed, some research suggests that traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines, can relieve symptoms.
Acupuncture is the practice of inserting hair-thin needles into strategic points on the body to relieve certain symptoms.
If you have had a food reaction in the past, your healthcare provider may also prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen), which is a first-line treatment for anaphylaxis.
Symptoms of a Mild Food Allergy
Symptoms can affect different areas of the body and range from mild to severe. They usually appear within a few minutes to two hours after exposure to the trigger food. Mild symptoms include:
- Itching, runny nose
- Itchy mouth
- mild nausea
- Discomfort in the abdomen
When to go to the emergency room
Food allergy symptoms that seem mild at first can quickly lead to a medical emergency. If you notice a rapid worsening of your symptoms, you may have a potentially life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis and you should seek help immediately.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Labored breathing
- Significant swelling of the face (except only lips)
- Hives are everywhere
- Chest tightness
- Slurred speech
- Swallowing problems
The only way to prevent mild and severe reactions is to avoid the food that causes the reaction. If you can’t narrow down to a specific food or ingredient, consider talking to your healthcare provider, who can run a series of tests to pinpoint food triggers.
In addition, it is vital to check food labels carefully to avoid foods that cause allergic reactions.
Fortunately, the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was passed in 2004 to help people with food allergies and their caregivers identify and avoid foods that contain major food allergens. Packaged food manufacturers must identify any of the eight common food allergens (egg, milk, soy, fish, peanut, tree nuts, wheat and shellfish) in their products.
Food allergies can be life-threatening, but not all reactions require immediate medical attention. The best way to prevent reactions caused by food allergies is to avoid foods that you are allergic to. However, if you come into contact with trigger foods, there are a few steps you can take at home to get relief. For example, drinking ginger tea, eating probiotic-rich foods, and taking antihistamines can alleviate the discomfort of mild food allergies.
Word from Verivell
These remedies will help you feel better. However, avoiding a reaction is the key to preventing feeling bad. Remember, just because an initial reaction is mild does not necessarily mean you won’t experience more severe symptoms after your next exposure. Reading food labels and being mindful of eating out can help you avoid exposure to potential food allergens.
Frequently asked Questions
How to get rid of food allergies?
The best way to eliminate the allergen is to stop eating the trigger food. You should also stay hydrated by drinking enough fluids if you have diarrhea or vomiting.
Do food allergies ever go away?
It depends. Allergies to eggs, milk, soy or wheat may disappear. However, allergies to tree nuts, shellfish, peanuts, and fish tend to persist for life.
How can you tell if you are allergic to certain foods?
If you experience hives, swelling, tingling in your mouth, or stomach discomfort shortly after eating a certain food, you may be allergic to it.