Swollen eyelids are typically linked with allergic conjunctivitis or hay fever after exposure to airborne allergens but can also develop due to food allergies. A food allergy is an erroneous response of the immune system as it wrongly identifies food as a threat and attempts to fight it off.
This results to inflammation in the soft tissue which is a usual symptom of food allergies. The inflammation can affect the lungs, sinuses and any part of the body that is made out of soft tissue including the eyes.
Causes of swollen eyelids
The development of swollen eyelids from food allergies is due to the presence of histamine in the eye area. As the body attempts to ward off the proteins from a particular food, the immune system releases IgE antibodies. The presence of these antibodies in the bloodstream triggers the mast cells to produce histamine.
Histamine is the chemical that starts the inflammatory process that results to irritation in the area of the body that are made of soft tissue. The elevated level of histamine causes increased flow of blood to parts of the body, resulting to swelling.
What is the effect?
The effect of the high levels of histamine around the eyes can lead to eye irritation such as itchy and watery eyes as well as swelling. Several symptoms of food allergies can develop up to 24 hours after the individual consumed the food.
The delayed reaction can trigger intense symptoms and excessive inflammation of the eyes. Other usual effects include hives, asthmatic reaction as well as nasal congestion.
The minor symptoms of food allergies can be managed with antihistamines. These medications work by blocking the ability of the body to produce histamine. Since histamine is the chemical that triggers the development of swollen eyelids, taking an antihistamine can minimize the irritation and swelling. You can readily find antihistamine eye drops in the market to manage the eye symptoms.
The ideal way to prevent and manage swollen eyelids from a food allergy is to determine all the potential allergens and avoid them. An allergist should be consulted regarding allergy testing in order to diagnose a specific food allergy.
Important considerations to bear in mind
Always bear in mind that swollen eyelids might not always be the result of a food allergy. An infection in the lining of the eyelid or conjunctivitis can also cause evident swelling around the eyes. The allergic type is triggered by exposure to airborne allergens and not due to a virus or bacteria. The non-allergic type is considered more serious that can involve a bacteria or virus and requires medical care. Consulting a doctor will ensure that the condition is properly diagnosed.