Food Allergy Facts

Each year, more than 30,000 Americans end up in the emergency room after a food allergy attack. And, to make the picture even more frightening, many adults experience food allergies to foods they may have eaten for years. Allergic reactions to food can be sudden and severe. Prompt medical attention and treatment may be necessary so it’s wise to know the facts.

The eight most common foods that can cause severe and even life threatening food allergies are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish (shrimp), tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.), peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. Since these eight foods are part of many common items eaten everyday, it’s wise to check packaging before eating for anyone who has ever suffered a food allergic reaction. Beginning in January 2006 the United States Food and Drug Administration requires all food labels to clearly note any of the above foods so that allergy sufferers can be aware of the dangers.

Although some people have a lifelong sensitivity to food, a food allergy can happen without warning – even if you’ve eaten the food many times without any problems. If a minor reaction happens,. be sure to see a doctor because future reactions are likely to be much more severe.

Family members who have food allergies make us more prone to having an allergic reaction ourselves. If one parent has a food allergy, then the child is up to 40% more likely to have one as well. This is especially true for children of parents who are allergic to shellfish and peanuts. If you’re worried, your doctor can order a series of tests to determine if you too may be allergic to the same foods.

Because food allergies build up over time, you can’t be allergic to a food that you have never eaten before. Food allergies happen after the body develops an intolerance to a particular food. This can take months and in some cases years.

Some food allergies are aggravated by excercise which raises body temperatures and triggers the reaction. If reactions remain mild and only occur after eating a particular food, then working out, you may be able to tolerate the food in small amounts. Again, check with your doctor for the best advice and reccomendation.

Reactions happen fast when they do happen, anywhere from minutes to within two hours after eating.

The symptoms of a food allergy attack include a racing heartbeat, feeling dizzy or light-headed, wheezing, a tingling tongue, hives, the throat feels like it is closing, or hands, mouth, or throat itch. If any of these symptoms occur and it is the first time, take an over the counter antihistimine such as Benadryl and go to the emergency room.

Don’t fail to take an attack – even a first attack – seriouslyl Reactions can be fatal. About 150 Americans die each year from food allergies. Many of those who do die are aware of a serious food allergy but failed to get the drug epinephrine in time.
Epinephrine can keep blocked airways open and save a life. If diagnosed with a severe food allergy, most doctors will prescribe an EpiPen, an auto injector device filled with epinephrine to carry whereever you go. If an attack happens, it’s vital to give yourself a shot. For those with severe allergies, it can make the difference between life and death.

Although food allergy sufferers can avoid the trigger foods, there may be times when a hidden ingredient triggers an attack. If dining out, ask about ingredients in dishes and be cautious.

In addition to the eight major foods that cause reactions, there are many other foods that may present problems in some individuals. Remember that abdominal pain or stomach upset are NOT signs of a food allergy but may be from either indigestin or food intolerance, an uncomfortable but seldom life threatening disorder.