What Are the Most Common Food Allergy Triggers?
Sometimes, certain foods may cause reactions in your body leading to some annoying and irritating symptoms. For instance, hot and spicy foods may trigger a runny nose, while beans may cause bloating and gas. Many people also have headaches after drinking wine. Eating cheese or other milk products may result in diarrhea in those who are lactose intolerant. Such reactions are usually a result of food sensitivity or intolerance, which don’t involve the immune system.
On the contrary, reactions to food caused by the immune system are known as food allergies. They occur, when a normally safe food that gets into your body is mistaken for something harmful. Your immune system then releases antibodies to protect you from the “invader”, which leads to such symptoms as mild skin rash, itchiness in the eyes, or even breath shortness.
Food allergy is a serious, sometimes even life-threatening condition that is not curable. However, there are some ways to control it. For instance, you can avoid food allergy symptoms by cutting down the trigger foods or eliminating them from your diet completely depending on the severity of your allergy. In those with severe allergies, the reaction may occur even after tiny amounts of a food, while those who are less sensitive may eat a little bit of their trigger food(s) without getting the symptoms.
What Are the Most Common Trigger Foods?
In 90 percent of cases, food allergies are caused by only eight foods: peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts and pecans), milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish. Milk allergies mainly affect children, while allergies to fish and shellfish mostly occur in adults. Peanut allergies affect people of all ages and cause reactions that may lead to fatal consequences. People that are allergic to wheat may also experience the symptoms when eating other grains containing gluten, such as barley, rye and oats.
In fact, an allergic reaction may be triggered by nearly any food. Although it is less common, some people may also develop an allergy to meat (including beef, pork, chicken and mutton), corn, gelatin, seeds (such as sesame, sunflower or poppy seeds), and spices (garlic, mustard, coriander, and caraway).
What Symptoms Do Food Allergies Cause?
With food allergies, it is never clear when the reaction is going to hit: you may experience it within minutes of eating the trigger food, or it may take hours for the symptoms to appear. The symptoms caused by an allergic reaction to food may be divided into mild and severe ones. While both mild and severe reactions may be triggered by various foods, the latter are most commonly caused by peanuts, nuts, fish and shellfish.
Thus, moderate food allergy symptoms include: dry, swollen or red itchy skin rash like eczema or hives; runny or stuffy nose; sneezing or dry cough; itchiness and redness in the eyes; watery eyes; itchiness in the ear or mouth; rare taste in the mouth; as well as stomachache, cramps, vomiting or diarrhea.
Severe symptoms include: breath shortness; difficulty swallowing; swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat; weakness, confusion, light-headedness or loss of consciousness; and chest pain or a weak heartbeat.
Some people may experience the symptoms of an allergic reaction all over the body, and the symptoms may be extremely severe. Such a reaction is known as anaphylaxis, and it may actually lead to fatal consequences. Anaphylaxis usually occurs within a few minutes after a person has eaten a trigger food, and it requires an immediate injection of a medication called epinephrine (adrenaline). Epinephrine can provide some relief until you are attended by a medical professional. Even if you are not sure if the symptoms you have are the result of an allergic reaction, use the epinephrine anyway, as it may save your life.
People with severe food allergies and those who have asthma and a food allergy are at risk for anaphylaxis. If you are in a risk group, it is recommended that you carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency.
It may be difficult to recognize the symptoms of an allergic reaction in children, since they often describe things differently from adults. A child may say that his tongue is tingling or heavy instead of saying that his tongue is swollen. In addition, if your child has a hoarse voice or his speech is slurring, this may indicate an allergy process.
Where Can Food Allergens Be Hidden?
In case of food allergies, to avoid the symptoms, you should avoid the trigger. However, avoiding certain foods may be challenging, as they may be contained in other foods. For instance, eggs are an important ingredient in most bakery products including cakes and cookies. Besides, a lot of baked foods also contain nuts. Some salad dressings are prepared with soybean oil, while a hot dog may contain milk protein.
Therefore, you always have to be sure about what you are eating. You can start with reading the food labels. However, they don’t always provide the full list of ingredients. Thus, milk casein, hydrolyzed soy protein or pineapple, that are sometimes contained in microwave popcorn, may be hidden under the general terms like “natural flavoring”. In addition, soy or egg in a product can be mentioned as “binder” or “emulsifier” in the ingredient list. If you have a food allergy, make sure to learn all these terms and their meanings. If you are not sure whether a food is safe for you, you can check with the customer service department of the manufacturing company.
When eating out, always read the menu carefully and check with a waiter, if you have questions about how your is prepared.