If you or your child finds it difficult to
concentrate, study or learn; are always restless, hyperactive,
irritable, agitated, withdrawn, obsessive, lacking in energy, bed-wets,
has difficulties sleeping, feels moody, anxious, or depressed, then you
or your child might be suffering from either food allergy or food
intolerance or both conditions. Recent research has linked emotional and
behavioral changes to food allergy. Some of these behavioral and
emotional symptoms have been previously labeled as ADD< ADHD, dyslexic
or autistic behavior.
Adverse reaction to foods can be broadly
divided into allergy or intolerance. Allergy is an immune mediated
reaction to the offending food whereas intolerance is an inability of
the body to chemically process the food in the body. Allergy and
intolerance arise through two very different basic mechanisms but the
clinical condition may look similar for some symptoms.
Individuals with attention deficit
disabilities are more susceptible to allergies due to their impaired
immune system and also food intolerance due to defects in digestive
enzymes and other genetic deficiencies compared to the average
Intolerant reactions to chemical
components of the diet are much more common than true food allergies.
They are caused by various organic chemicals occurring naturally in a
wide range of plant and other foods, or by additives (such as
preservatives, food colorings or food flavorings) used in food
processing. Chemically there's little difference between "natural" and
"artificial" ingredients. Both may cause adverse intolerant reactions in
sensitive people if sufficiently large amounts are consumed. Individuals
with food allergy may also suffer from food intolerance.
Allergies are increasing in prevalence
rapidly worldwide. The increase has been attributed to modern lifestyle
that is associated with enhanced exposure to high load of allergies. An
allergy is the body's overreaction of the immune system to a foreign
substance. The substance that causes the body's immune system to
overreact is referred to as an 'allergen'. When an allergen, such as
pollens is inhaled, it is identified by the body's immune system as an
intruder. In response to the foreign substance, the body produces an
inappropriate large amount of a special antibody called 'immunoglobulin
E' or IgE. the IgE antibodies immediately attaches to mast cells located
in skin and mucosal tissues. Further subsequent exposure to the allergen
causes the mast cells to release histamine and other mediators.
Histamine causes swelling of the lining in
the nose and causes extra release of watery mucus. Consequently, the
person can suffer nasal itching and congestion, sneezing, and inflamed,
irritated, and or itching eyes. Similar reactions occur in the skin
causing eczema and itching to be gastrointestinal tract resulting in
diarrhea and stomach pain. In a systemic reaction many organs in the
body may be affected.
Foods that commonly causing allergy
problems include eggs, cow's milk, fish, wheat, peanuts, soybean, crab,
shrimps and banana.
There is growing evidence that many people
with attention deficit disability and other related disorder such as
autism and asperger syndrome are intolerant of certain food products.
Some of these children also suffer from true allergies as well. The most
common food products to which this sensitivity develops are grains
(wheat, rye, oats) and dairy products (milk, cheese, whey). Other foods,
which are often consumed such as strawberries and citrus fruits, may
also cause problems.
Food intolerance may be responsible for
numerous physical and behavioral problems, such as headaches, stomach
aches, feeling of nausea, bed-wetting, appearing 'spaced out',
stuttering, excessive whining and crying, sleeping problems,
hyperactivity, aggression, sound sensitivity, temper tantrums, fatigue,
depression, intestinal problems (gas, diarrhea, constipation), muscle
aches in the legs, ear infections and possibly seizures. These can
include: pink or black circles around the eyes, bags under the eyes,
rosy cheeks or ears, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, fluid in the
ears (a cause of ear infections), and excessive perspiration. However,
other factors may also participate in causing these problems.
A differential diagnosis determines the
factors that play a role in the development of the symptoms including
behavior pattern. Several laboratory tests are available in identifying
the suspected food allergies and food intolerance in the individual.
Avoidance of the offending foods can bring marked changes in symptoms
and behavior pattern of the individual.
Although allergen immunotherapy, which is
a costly long-term immunosuppressive technique, has been advocated it
has been found to be effective for IgE-medicated reactions to
aeroallergens such as house dust mites and pet dander, but not for foods
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