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Coping with Food Allergy September 18, 2014

CONSIDERED as one of the most common chronic conditions worldwide, food allergy can be very serious and in rare instances can be fatal. However, this may be controlled if there is correct information regarding this condition. Support and understanding from family and friends are great help to those who have allergic reactions to food.

A food allergy happens when the body's immune system reacts unusually to specific foods that are usually harmless to non-allergic people. It is important to distinguish a true food allergy from other abnormal responses to food such as food intolerance because its symptoms resemble those of food allergy. According to, "food intolerance is triggered by several different mechanisms distinct from food allergy. Either food allergy or food intolerance affects people at some point. However, only three (3) percent of adults and six (6) percent of children have clinically proven true allergic reactions to food."

In a recent episode of 'Hataw sa Serbisyo' on Radio DWIZ, Dr. Israel Francis A. Pargas, OIC-Vice President for Corporate Affairs Group of PhilHealth shared that among the common symptoms of food allergy are an itchy sensation inside the mouth, throat or ears, a raised itchy red rash known as hives, swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue, roof of the mouth and vomiting.

Pargas also said that food allergy can develop at any age and at any time. They commonly happen in children but may give rise to symptoms for the first time in adulthood. In children, foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. In adults, the common causes of food allergy are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crab, lobster and prawns.

The website states that the allergens in food are factors that can incite an allergic reaction. They can enter the body through various routes like inhalation, ingestion, injection, and external skin contact. They are absorbed and they enter the bloodstream. When they reach the skin, allergens can induce hives or eczema and when they reach the airways they can cause asthma. As these allergens travel through the blood vessels they can cause anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock which is a sudden drop in blood pressure which may be fatal if not treated quickly.

In addition, states that the most common allergy triggers known as allergens include food, medications, insect stings, animal dander, pollen, dust, mold, and latex. In some instances, smoking, pollution, infection, and hormones are other factors that may cause allergic conditions. It is essential to know what causes the allergy symptoms by consulting an allergy doctor. Once the allergen is identified, the treatment is to avoid the allergen that caused it.

To successfully manage your food allergy, there has to be a change in diet and lifestyle. These change may seem hard and challenging at first, but this adjustment is a means to safeguard anybody from an allergic reaction and the hazard it may bring to one's being.

Pargas emphasized that PhilHealth covers confinement for allergic reactions for all its active members and qualified dependents. "A member who is confined in a hospital facility for allergic reactions may avail himself of P6,200.00 as PhilHealth benefit, while confinements for Anaphylactic Shock are compensable at P7,600.00," he said. If, however, the member was confined in a Primary Care Facility, Infirmary, Dispensary, "he can avail himself of P4,320.00 as PhilHealth benefit for Allergy/Food Reaction, and P5,320 for Anaphylactic Shock.”

Last year, PhilHealth paid P8.3 million in benefits for 1,805 claims for Food Allergy, and P1.5 million for 308 claims for Anaphylactic Shock. Pargas reminded listeners of the weekly radio program to make sure that their premium contributions are updated, and to check within their communities where the nearest PhilHealth-accredited health care institution is located, for those just-in-case situations. (Evelyn P. de Leon)

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Coping with Food Allergy