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The 8 Most Common Food Allergies and Signs You May Have One

CommonFoodAllergiesIf it seems like more people are being diagnosed with food allergies, it isn’t just your imagination. Food allergies are, indeed, on the rise—however, researchers have not yet discovered why.[1] Maybe you even suspect you might be among the estimated 15 million Americans who have one.[2]

Experiencing allergic reactions to food can be frightening and frustrating. Sometimes symptoms can be missed until they get serious because milder reactions can seem like something else (e.g., coughing and wheezing, a stomachache). Sometimes it is difficult to figure out which food is causing you trouble.

The majority of food allergies are caused by these foods

Eight foods are associated with 90 percent of food allergy reactions[3]:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pecans)
  • Soy
  • Wheat and other grains with gluten (e.g., barley, rye)
  • Fish
  • Shellfish

While people are allergic to a wide range of foods, these are often a starting point when someone is trying to determine what is causing a reaction.

Symptoms of a food allergy

Food allergies can begin at any age.[4] That means you could develop an allergic reaction to something you have consumed without problem in the past. Reactions can range from mild (e.g., itchy mouth) to severe and potentially deadly (e.g., anaphylaxis)—and mild symptoms may not stay mild; they can become severe ones[5],[6]

Signs of an allergic reaction, which often occur within two hours of ingestion and even within minutes, include, but are not limited to, the following[7],[8]:

  • Hives
  • Flushed skin or rash
  • Tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth
  • Face, tongue or lip swelling
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Dizziness and/or lightheadedness
  • Swelling of the throat and vocal cords
  • Swelling of the tongue, affecting the ability to talk or breathe
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale or blue coloring of skin
  • Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing

While there is no cure to food allergies, they sometimes go away on their own. If you suspect you have a food allergy, schedule an appointment with a physician or an allergist who can help you with the diagnosis, educate you about your allergy, and prescribe you with an Epi-pen—an epinephrine autoinjector that is used during early symptoms of anaphylaxis.[9]

Should you experience severe symptoms of an allergic reaction to food or anything else, get emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.

 


[1] Food Allergy Research & Education. “Facts and Statistics.” http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats
[2] Ibid.
[3] American College of Allergy, Asthma & immunology. “Food Allergy: Overview.” http://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergies
[4] Food Allergy Research & Education. “Facts and Statistics.” http://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats
[5] Ibid.
[6] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Food Allergies: What You Need to Know.” Last updated Sept. 2, 2015. http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm
[7] American College of Allergy, Asthma & immunology. “Food Allergy: Overview.” http://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergies
[8] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Food Allergies: What You Need to Know.” Last updated Sept. 2, 2015. http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079311.htm
[9] Ibid.

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