According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 50 million Americans experience various types of allergic reactions each year.
That’s a lot of people.
The report goes on to say that allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illnesses.
With figures like that, allergies are a sure cause for concern.
Unfortunately, though, some people have allergic reactions to substances that are prevalent in the atmosphere and in many foods, a yeast allergy for example.
But before we look at what exactly a yeast allergy is and how to treat it, let’s, first of all, get a broad understanding of what an allergy is.
Allergies – The Plague of an Overreacting Immune System
Many people suffer from allergies the world over. But do you know what exactly happens in your body to cause those allergic reactions?
First off, let’s define what an allergy is.
An allergy is the body’s defensive reaction to a normally harmless substance (to most people). This means the body perceives this otherwise harmless substance as a threat to your health and thus releases antibodies to attack the intruder.
In an attempt to flush out the attacker, the body releases histamines, resulting in the symptoms associated with allergies.
The trigger of this reaction is called an allergen. So, in our case today, for people suffering from a yeast allergy, the allergen is yeast.
Most of the time, when a person with an allergy comes into contact with an allergen, their body doesn’t react immediately. This is because the body first checks out the foreign body to determine whether it’s a friend or a foe.
The more an allergy sufferer gets in contact with the allergen that triggers their allergic reaction, the more the body becomes more sensitive to that allergen. This leads to the body recognizing it and responding faster.
This is called sensitization.
The process of sensitization is different from person to person. For some, the process can take as little as a few days while for others it can even take years. This is why some people develop allergies in the later stages of their lives.
In many cases, allergies are seasonal due to the presence of the allergens involved being seasonal as well. This includes allergens such as pollen which leads to allergic rhinitis or hay fever as it is commonly called.
Yeast Allergy – Zeroing In
Now that you know what an allergy is, let’s zero in on the specifics of a yeast allergy.
Yeast is a type of fungus that is used widely in many foods and beverages the world over. In other instances, it is formed when certain foods remain open for a prolonged time. This means the list of foods that contain this allergen is quite vast. It includes, but is not limited to:
But yeast is not just found in foods. It is also found in other fungi like molds.
It is even found in your body.
This is why, when it comes to treating yeast related illnesses, it’s important to know that there are 3 types.
This is when the yeast levels in your body rise to abnormal levels leading to a fungal infection. This infection comes with the same symptoms as a yeast allergy. Fortunately, it is curable.
Yeast intolerance is not a yeast allergy and they are not to be confused. Yeast intolerance is simply the body’s heightened sensitivity to yeast. It has less severe symptoms as compared to a yeast allergy.
The reactions vary from individual to individual, including the severity.
Which brings us to the next point…
TELL-TALE SIGNS OF A YEAST ALLERGY
So how can you know if you have a yeast allergy or not?
Because yeast can be found in food and in the air from molds (and other fungi), we will divide the symptoms into 2 categories.
One of the biggest sources of yeast is the food we eat. And as such, it is important to observe your reaction to certain foods, especially those that contain yeast.
Some of the symptoms of a yeast allergy due to eating food that contains yeast include gastrointestinal problems that span the spectrum from diarrhea to bloating to gas to stomach discomfort.
In other cases, the allergic reaction to yeast reveals itself in the form of a rash or other type of skin irritation.
Symptoms of a Yeast Allergy Due to Yeast in the Atmosphere
As already alluded to, yeast and other fungi are also present in the atmosphere. A classic example is mold in the house. This causes another set of symptoms that you also need to be aware of and not confuse for some other allergens.
The most common symptom of coming into contact with yeast in the atmosphere may include:
Yeast, when inhaled, can also trigger an asthmatic attack.
DIAGNOSIS, PREVENTION, AND TREATMENT OF A YEAST ALLERGY
Now comes the most important part when it comes to living with a yeast allergy – prevention, management, and treatment.
Before we go any further, it is important to understand that a yeast allergy (and any other allergy for that matter) cannot be cured. That’s simply because your body is already wired to treat the allergen as a dangerous intruder.
However, it is possible to prevent attacks and treat the symptoms.
So how can you be certain you have a yeast allergy in the first place? After all, if you go by the symptoms alone, it’s not possible to pinpoint yeast as the cause of your allergic reactions.
A true yeast allergy can be accurately diagnosed by an allergist. They will ask you about your history of allergic reactions to certain foods first. The second step will be to perform a skin prick test to confirm the diagnosis. The test involves the allergist putting a small amount of yeast on your skin and test for a reaction.
Sometimes the allergist may even test your blood to determine the presence of an antibody protein that is usually an indicator of a food allergy.
Once you have been diagnosed with a yeast allergy, the most effective way of preventing an allergic reaction is to avoid foods that have any trace of yeast in them. You should also try as much as possible to avoid moldy environments.
Management and Treatment
If your yeast allergy is not severe there are certain foods and times you can consume yeast. In such instances, the allergic reaction can be managed by the use of antihistamines.
The good thing is that antihistamines are readily available over the counter at your local drug store and don’t even cost a lot.
If the allergic reaction is so severe it leads to an anaphylactic attack, you will need to get medical attention – fast. But if you have been diagnosed with this rare allergic attack, it is advisable that you move around with your epinephrine injection.
The severity of some allergic reactions makes it a necessity for you to undergo an allergy test to help you be better equipped in times of emergency.
Yeast Allergy History
There is some controversy about yeast allergies. It all started in the 1970s when two doctors made claims about a yeast allergy.
They went a little overboard, citing almost every health issue you can imagine as a sign of a yeast allergy. However, people believed the claims and started buying supplements, which helped that industry come into being.
Eventually, the science these doctors used was proven wrong. Medical boards starting taking action against doctors promoting yeast allergies.
The medical community today recognizes that a yeast allergy is a valid allergy, but it is quite rare to have it. If you have diabetes or a weak immune system, you are more likely to develop this type of allergy.
As mentioned above, there are tests that doctors can do now that will definitively diagnose your allergy. A doctor will not treat you for such an allergy without doing the proper testing.
Taking supplements is not the way to solve your allergy issues. You should always speak with your doctor before trying anything over the counter.
YEAST ALLERGY – BE PREPARED
Although yeast allergy is still a controversial matter among medical circles, it is always best to get tested if you exhibit any of the symptoms outlined above. This will not only equip you to manage your allergy, but it will also give you peace of mind as you will know the exact cause of your allergic reactions.