mercyym.jpgBy Mercy Makuwatsine


Some people wake up every morning and enjoy a glass of milk. However, to some, drinking milk is like infecting oneself with a toxic which can cause skin rashes or irritation.


Others even vomit or suffer from stomach pains. What can be the cause of these reactions? Well, scientists say food allergies are the causes. But what are food allergies?


Allergies cause unpleasant dangerous symptoms such as sneezing, skin irritations and constriction of the threat from the exposure of substances that are otherwise harmless.

Common allergens are pollen, dust mites, moulds and certain foods.


Scientists say Zimbabweans should be wary of food allergies as these can even be life threatening.


However, it is not milk alone that can cause food allergies, but other foods like fish, peanuts, eggs among others.


Food allergies can happen from a few minutes up to an hour or two after eating the offending food. The reactions often present as skin rashes or swelling of the face or other parts of the body and even a runny nose.


A person’s blood pressure can drop, breathing tubes can narrow, and the tongue can swell. A severe collapse that can threaten life can also occur.


Food allergies are common in children.  Prominent allergies and immunology scientist, Professor Elopy Sibanda, says food allergies are an immune system response by which the body creates antibodies as a reaction to certain foods.


Scientists believe allergies are hereditary, which means if the parent is allergic to some foods, his/her children can also be allergic to the same foods, whereas others develop food allergies over time.


This may be due to someone’s surroundings or changes in the body as they grow older.


But can allergies be treated? Scientists say no treatment can be done, only that the patient has to have a skin test. This is a way of testing how the body reacts to a very small amount of food that is giving trouble.


Some doctors may also take a blood sample and send it to a lab, where it is mixed with some of the food or substance one may be allergic to and checked for certain antibodies.


Avoiding the food causing the allergy is the only solution.


However, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that a molecule Interleukin-12 which may protect against food allergy has been identified.