Do some foods leave you feeling sick or uncomfortable time after time? If a certain food doesn’t sit well with you on a regular basis, you may have a food allergy.
What are food allergies?
Food allergies occur when your immune system reacts to specific foods you eat. These allergies can cause digestive problems, hives or swollen airways. Sometimes, food allergies can even cause life-threatening reactions. That’s why it’s important to be informed about food allergies and to know what to do if you have an allergic reaction to something you eat.
Food allergies affect between 6 and 8 percent of children under age three and up to 3 percent of adults. While there’s no permanent cure, some children do outgrow their food allergies.
Foods that cause allergic reactions
More than 160 foods are capable of causing allergic reactions in people with food allergies. However, eight of those foods account for about 90 percent of the food allergies that affect people.
- Tree nuts
Symptoms of an allergic reaction
How do you know if you’re having an allergic reaction to a food? There are a few things to watch for.
- Timing: Most food allergy symptoms appear between a few minutes and two hours after you’ve eaten the triggering food.
- Symptoms: Food allergy symptoms can include hives, rash, tingling or itching inside the mouth, swelling of the tongue, face or lips, vomiting and/or diarrhea, abdominal cramps, coughing or wheezing, swelling of the vocal cords and throat, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness and dizziness or lightheadedness.
In some cases, food allergies can cause a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis causes constricted airways, a severe drop in blood pressure, shock, rapid pulse, dizziness and suffocation by way of throat-swelling. Anaphylaxis can be treated with an injection of epinephrine by autoinjector (also known as an Epi-pen).
How to treat a food allergy
If you think you might have a food allergy, it’s important to contact a healthcare provider for testing and evaluation. Your provider will teach you how to avoid the food(s) you’re allergic to and how to identify the early symptoms of an allergic reaction. If you experience any symptoms of anaphylaxis, seek emergency treatment immediately.
If you’re struggling with food allergies, talk to a primary care provider with Goshen Physicians.