Know the Signs, Symptoms of a Food Allergy
We love our food, but sometimes our favorite foods don’t love us. And for 32 million Americans with food allergies, the results can be bothersome, if not deadly.
What’s that … you say you don’t suffer a food allergy? Not so fast. Food allergies are not always as obvious as hives or breathing problems.
WebMD says eight foods are to blame for 90 percent of food allergy reactions.
The hateful eight:
- Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts and pecans
- Wheat and other grains with gluten, including barley, rye and oats
Some of us also have reactions to corn, gelatin, meats, seeds and spices.
The experts recommend that once you know you suffer an allergic reaction to a specific food or food group you should simply avoid the trigger foods.
So how do you know if you suffer a food allergy?
Nuisance signs and symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, dry, or itchy skin rash
- Runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, or a slight, dry cough
- Itchy, watery, red eyes
- Itchy mouth or inside your ear
- Funny taste in your mouth
- Upset stomach, cramps, throwing up or diarrhea
More severe reactions – the ones often linked to peanuts, nuts, fish and shellfish – include:
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Swollen lips, tongue or throat
- Feeling weak, confused or light-headed, or passing out
- Chest pain or a weak, uneven heartbeat
WebMD says there can be hidden triggers in foods like baked goods because of eggs and nuts; water-packed tuna because of nonfat dry milk; salad dressing because of soybean oil; and hot dogs because of milk protein.
Food allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Every three minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room in the U.S.
FoodAllergy.org notes: “Reactions can range from mild to severe, including the potentially life-threatening condition anaphylaxis. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis, and your anaphylaxis plan should be individualized by your healthcare provider. Delays in administering epinephrine for severe or persistent symptoms can be very dangerous, especially when the delay is an hour or longer.”
Please keep in mind that just because you didn’t suffer a food allergy as a child doesn’t mean you are safe now.
As recently reported on TODAY.com, “…10.8 percent of adults, more than 26 million adults, experience food allergies. Half of those adults report developing the allergies after age 18.”
Dr. Scott Sicherer, a professor of pediatrics, allergy and immunology at Mount Sinai Hospital, notes, “We’re not sure why people develop allergies as an adult. Perhaps it’s too much use of antibiotics which change our gut flora and that’s not good for the immune system. Another popular theory is the hygiene hypothesis, which is that our environments are just too sterile and we’re not exposing our immune systems enough to develop and mature and be able to distinguish the good from the bad.”
The bottom line: Watch for symptoms and react accordingly.
John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.