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Can Allergies Make You Nauseous

by Clara Wynn
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Can Allergies Make You Nauseous

Can Allergies Make You Nauseous? If you eat something that causes an allergic reaction — like shellfish, for example, or milk chocolate — you might think about throwing up. But what happens if you’re not eating anything at all? The answer is that your body can experience a severe allergic reaction even if there’s no food involved. It’s called “anaphylaxis,” and it can result in nausea and/or vomiting.

An allergy is caused by the body’s overproduction of antibodies (immunoglobulin E) designed to help fight off infections from bacteria, viruses and other foreign invaders. In some cases, these antibodies may also react strongly to substances that aren’t necessarily pathogens but resemble them enough to trigger the same type of attack. When this happens, the immune system mistakenly identifies such substances as harmful threats and launches into action against them.

The immune system then releases histamine, a chemical compound released during allergic reactions, which triggers inflammation and swelling. Histamines prompt blood vessels to constrict so that they don’t open up and spill their load of fluid onto the surrounding tissues. This results in itching, redness, tightness, sneezing, coughing and sometimes hives. However, unlike normal histamine release, anaphylactic shock-induced histamine production goes far beyond causing discomfort; instead, it can be fatal.

In addition to histamine, the immune systems of people who have allergies often produce another important protein called immunoglobulin G, which helps the body to recognize and neutralize toxins. Immunoglobulin G is produced naturally within the body, but it can also be manufactured through vaccination. If someone has an exaggerated response to allergens, excess immunoglobulin G could end up attacking its own source, leading to anaphylaxis.

Nausea is actually a symptom that usually accompanies more serious allergic responses. People with allergies who develop nausea and/or vomiting typically do so after ingesting foods that contain certain types of carbohydrates. These include wheat, rye, barley, onions, garlic, corn, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, milk products and seafood. Food allergies that make you nauseated tend to occur more frequently among children than adults.

Why does this happen? As we mentioned earlier, one reason is that the immune system mistakes certain foods for dangerous invaders. Carbohydrates found in many plants and animals are known as glycoproteins, meaning they contain a sugar molecule attached to proteins. Glycans serve as markers on the surface of cells, helping identify healthy cells from those infected by viruses or cancer cells. Humans’ bodies use glycans in much the same way, except our immune systems mistake them for toxic particles.

When the immune system detects glycan antigens, it sends out T lymphocytes to fight against the threat. Unfortunately, the T lymphocytes react to any carbohydrate, regardless of whether it belongs to a plant or animal, and therefore become confused. As a result, the immune system attacks both harmless antigens and harmful ones alike, resulting in anaphylactic shock. Once the T lymphocytes are activated, however, they release special chemicals that tell white blood cells to break down tissue and expel fluids, including gastric acid. So while the symptoms associated with allergies and anaphylaxis may seem similar, they differ markedly in terms of severity. An allergy is mild and self-limiting, whereas anaphylaxis is potentially life-threatening.
Learn more about food allergies and how they affect your health by visiting the links on the following page.

Some researchers speculate that the incidence of food allergies is increasing, especially among infants. They point to studies showing that babies born prematurely are more prone to developing food allergies than kids born full term. One theory suggests that premature birth leaves babies susceptible to infection, which may explain why allergies strike early on. Other theories suggest that exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution and household pets, may increase the risk of allergies later on in childhood.

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