Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Over 50 million Americans have some form of food allergies, and these allergies may occur at any age. You can eat a certain food for years, and then suddenly develop an allergic reaction. A food allergy occurs when your body mistakenly identifies a common food as a danger, and overreacts with an extreme immune response. Allergies tend to run in families, but it’s impossible to predict if a parent’s allergy will be passed down to a child.  Food allergies can cause mild symptoms, or they can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical care because it can be fatal.

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder triggered by wheat. Often chronic abdominal problems, behavioral issues such as ADHD, and delayed growth and puberty are symptoms.

What foods are the most common triggers?

Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat, corn, seeds, meat, spices, and gelatin.

What are the symptoms?

Skin rashes; itching on your skin, inside your mouth, or in your ear; runny or stuffy nose; an odd taste in your mouth; itchy, watery eyes; cramping or vomiting.

Symptoms of a severe reaction that requires immediate medical attention include: trouble breathing or swallowing; swollen lips, tongue, or throat; feeling weak, confused, or dizzy; squeaky or croaky voice; slurring words, and chest pain.

What is the treatment?

Topical or oral steroids, oral antihistamines, or asthma medicine.

Anaphylaxis reactions require epinephrine treatment, and hospital care to monitor and support breathing and blood pressure.

Can it be prevented?

Research suggests that breastfeeding and not feeding babies solid food before the age of four months can help prevent allergies from developing. Babies with severe eczema may be more likely to develop an egg or peanut allergy.

Once you know that you’re allergic to a particular food, you can prevent the allergic reaction by avoiding the food. You should be especially careful and ask questions when eating in restaurants. An allergist can test you for food allergies, particularly if they run in your family. Hopefully, this will help you avoid a “first” allergic reaction.

Certain food allergies, such as wheat, milk, eggs, and soy, may resolve in time. About a fourth of children outgrow peanut allergies. Other allergies, such as tree nuts and shellfish, tend to be lifelong.

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