Elgin residents get to know food allergy symptoms
Even though food allergies are commonly confused with food intolerance, allergies to food are relatively common. The Centers for Disease Control estimate 4 to 6 percent of kids and 4 percent of adults have this immune system reaction to food triggers.
Symptoms can vary widely from person to person. Even the same person can have a mild allergic reaction and then have a more severe reaction later.
In addition, your food allergy symptoms may vary from the symptoms experienced by a friend or family member who is allergic to other substances such as pet dander, mold, pollen, and dust.
If your trigger is something you breathe in chances are your eyes, nose, and lungs will be affected. If food is your problem, your symptoms will typically affect the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.
Some of the most frequently cited food allergy symptoms include:
- A burning, tingling, or itchy mouth
- Skin inflammation, rashes
- Nausea, abdominal pain
- Vomiting, diarrhea
Children may describe some of these symptoms as “my mouth feels funny,” or they may mention that it feels like something fuzzy is on their tongue or stuck in their throat.
Food allergies are the No. 1 cause of a potentially deadly condition known as anaphylaxis.
Think of how any allergic reaction works. If you have an allergy, your immune system mistakes a specific substance or food as harmful. The system’s way of protecting you is to deploy abnormally large numbers of antibodies to identify and neutralize these perceived dangerous substances. During this process, chemicals such as histamine are released. These chemicals are responsible for a range of symptoms.
With anaphylaxis, the body’s over-reaction to a specific trigger food sends the body into shock. Often this reaction comes on suddenly. It may start with the typical signs such as a rash or a runny nose and then progress to serious symptoms including:
- Airway constriction
- Tongue, throat swelling
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Pale complexion
The vast majority of these reactions can be blamed on a handful of foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.
Even very small amounts of the food can cause a reaction. Problems frequently arise when an allergic person consumes a food they thought was safe due to mislabeling or cross-contamination when meals are prepared.
Since there are so many potentially adverse food allergy symptoms and these effects can evolve with time, it’s important to be properly diagnosed. Drs. Noga Askenazi and Eugenia Hahn can then develop a treatment plan so you can start enjoying foods again without the fear of consequences.