Food Allergy Overview
A Food allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to a specific protein found in certain foods. Most food allergies are diagnosed in young children but can develop into adulthood as well. You can develop an allergy to certain foods at any point in your life, even if you have previously been able to eat that food without any problems.
What triggers food allergies?
Any type of food you consume can cause an allergic reaction, but the most common types of food allergies come from these foods:
- Tree nuts
What are food allergy symptoms?
Symptoms of a food allergy can range from very mild to severe. They may show through the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system, and the respiratory tract. Most food allergy symptoms show within two hours of ingestion with the majority starting within minutes. The most common symptoms of a food allergy are:
- Vomiting and/or stomach cramps
- Shortness of breath
- Repetitive cough
- Shock or circulatory collapse
- Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing
- Swelling of the tongue, affecting the ability to talk or breathe
- Weak pulse
- Pale or blue coloring of skin
- Dizziness or feeling faint
How do you diagnose a food allergy?
To diagnose a food allergy, you can meet with an allergist who will dive into your health history looking for any consistent triggers to determine if your symptoms are allergic or non-allergic. Your allergist may also recommend a skin test or blood test to determine any allergens that may be affecting your system. In some cases, an allergist will recommend an oral food challenge, which is done under the direct supervision of an allergist in a doctor’s office.
How do you manage and treat a food allergy?
The way to manage and treat a food allergy is to avoid consuming the food that triggers your symptoms. Be conscious of what you are eating both in and away from home. The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA) mandates that manufacturers of packaged foods produced in the United States identify, in simple, clear language, the presence of any of the eight most common food allergens — milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish and crustacean shellfish — in their products. You will also need to be careful when eating outside of your home to ensure those preparing your food know exactly what your allergy is and its severity.
Food oral immunotherapy is also a treatment option used. We offer Paloforzia (peanut allergen extract) to help reduce the severity of an allergic reaction to peanuts. This medicine will not treat an allergic reaction that has already begun but is instead a preventative used in adults and children 4 years of age or older.
If your food allergy is life-threatening, injectable epinephrine is usually prescribed as emergency medication for treating a life-threatening allergy.