If you’ve ever suspected that you’re allergic to a certain type of food, read on for information on symptoms, treatment and prevention.
An allergic reaction to food occurs when your body’s immune system reacts abnormally to a protein that is not harmful to the body. Allergies are potentially dangerous because they can cause anaphylaxis, a severe, entire body reaction. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include abdominal cramping, difficulty breathing, coughing, diarrhea, nausea, wheezing, slurred speech, skin redness, faintness, hives and vomiting. Symptoms can occur immediately or up to two hours after you eat an offending food.
Which foods are the most common culprits?
Peanuts and tree nuts (such as almonds, pecans and walnuts) are the most common causes of serious allergic reactions. However, the following foods are known allergy triggers for some adults as well:
- Shellfish and seafood
For children, the most common causes of food allergies, in addition to nuts, include:
What should you do if you think you are having an allergic reaction to food?
Many food allergies subside after a few hours. If you develop a skin rash, an antihistamine can help reduce itching. For more serious cases, a medication like prednisone can help. In the most serious cases, an epinephrine injection (or “EPI pen”) may be used. Consult your doctor if you experience minor symptoms. If you are having trouble breathing, go to an emergency room or call 911.