How Should You Manage Mild and Severe Food Allergy Symptoms?
The symptoms caused by food allergies may vary in their intensity and severity. While some of them can be safely treated at home, others require a medical attention. However, in case an allergic reaction, especially a serious one, experts recommend that you contact your doctor or call 911.
Below, you will find a number of guidelines on various reactions to food, both allergic and non-allergic, so that you know which symptoms require immediate medical help, when you should visit your doctor or make an appointment with an allergist-immunologist, as well as when it’s enough to use a home treatment.
When Should You Call 911?
In case of a severe allergic reaction to food, such as anaphylaxis, you should receive an immediate dose of epinephrine (adrenaline) and a follow-up medical care. An anaphylactic reaction (also known as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock) is a life-threating condition that can be caused by certain allergenic foods.
Doctors suggest that you call 911, if you develop symptoms like hives, swelling of the lips or tongue, problems with breathing, low blood pressure, or digestive symptoms such as vomiting, severe nausea or diarrhea.
A severe asthma attack that occurs right after eating is also an emergency, especially when it is accompanied by skin rash or swelling. If your symptoms don’t seem to get better with your normal rescue medications, you may need to call your local emergency.
When Should You Contact Your Family Doctor?
Food allergies can also cause symptoms that are not life-threatening, but some of them may indicate the potential of the development of an anaphylactic allergy, especially if a reaction occurs for the first time. For instance, you may experience swollen lips or tongue, wheezing, breathing difficulties, itchy skin or hives, as well as diarrhea or vomiting that may lead to dehydration. In this case, you will likely need to contact your general practitioner as soon as possible.
Your doctor may recommend that you perform allergy testing to see whether it’s an allergic reaction or not and determine the cause of the symptoms. Based on the results, he may prescribe you some emergency treatment, in case you experience another reaction.
Besides, if your baby is having problems with eating, e.g. severe diarrhea, vomiting or abdominal cramps, you should call your pediatrician immediately. Remember that it’s important to act quickly, to ensure the proper growth and comfort of the child.
When Should You Make an Appointment with an Allergist?
If you think that some foods are causing you to have allergy-like symptoms, you may want to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. It is usually recommended, if you experience itching of the mouth, digestive problems (including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea), hay fever (rhinitis), difficulties swallowing, or heartburn, when eating certain food products.
Your visit to a doctor will likely consist of physical analyses, and examination of your medical history and symptoms. If allergy is suspected, you will likely be referred to an allergist-immunologist who specializes in allergic disorders.
You should also consider arranging a visit to your pediatrician, if you think that your baby is not gaining weight (or losing weight) and not growing properly. This might be a sign of food allergies (such as oral allergy syndrome), or food intolerances. The pediatrician will perform a special examine to identify potential causes of the symptoms.
Food intolerance, also known as eosinophilic esophagitis, is quite a rare condition that involves your esophagus. Other types of food sensitivities (for example, irritable bowel syndrome) may also develop in some individuals.
Which Symptoms Can Be Treated at Home?
Sometimes, eating certain foods may cause mild reactions such as development of hives on a small area of the skin. However, hives are not necessarily a symptoms of food allergies. In fact, there are many potential triggers of this rash, including cold, heat, stress, infections, medications, or even exercise.
If you don’t seem to have any other symptoms apart from mild hives, you can treat those at home, using over-the-counter antihistamine medications like Benadryl (diphenhydramine). In case your treatment doesn’t seem to be effective, you will need to consult with your doctor.
The Bottom Line
To sum up, allergic reactions to food are not always severe and life-threatening, and in many cases, you can find a solution using over-the-counter treatments. However, severe food allergy symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, require an immediate medical help. If you experience symptoms that are mild but still cause a lot of discomfort, it’s better to visit a doctor.