Food allergies are no joke. While you may hear the term used a lot today, it’s important to really have an awareness of what a food allergy is, what causes it, and the dangers that come with it. Estimated to affect 4 to 6 percent of children and 4 percent of adults (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), a food allergy can pop up at any time in life, not just during childhood. Are you ready to learn the basics of food allergies? Keep reading!

What causes a food allergy?

A food allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a certain food as harmful and reacts by causing allergic symptoms. Food allergy symptoms are very different from other allergies. They can be mild, moderate or severe. Mild to moderate symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, hives, swelling and increased eczema.

Severe allergic symptoms (which can be life threatening) include swallowing and breathing difficulties, dizziness and a drop in blood pressure. Food allergy symptoms can quickly progress from mild to severe. Family history appears to play a role in whether someone develops a food allergy.  Food allergies are known to aggravate eczema in some people.

What are the most common food allergies?

Although nearly any food can trigger an allergic reaction, there are some common foods that cause most reactions. The most common causes of food allergies are these eight foods:

  • milk
  • egg
  • peanut
  • tree nut
  • soy
  • wheat
  • fish
  • shellfish

Tree nut allergies include walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and brazil nuts.

Wheat is common in children, though most outgrow this allergy by age three. Fish allergies include salmon, tuna and halibut, but there are more types people can be allergic to. Shellfish includes crab, lobster, shrimp and mussels. Additionally, an allergy to sesame affects hundreds of thousands of Americans; however, you won’t find it on food labels.

Does age play a factor in food allergies?

Food allergy symptoms are most common in babies and children, but they can appear at any age. You can even develop an allergy to foods you have eaten for years with no problems.

The foods that are most associated with children allergies are milk, eggs, and peanuts, however children may outgrow their allergic reactions to milk and eggs. Peanut and tree nut allergies are generally lifelong. While most food allergies arise in childhood, at least 15 percent of food allergies are first diagnosed in adulthood. The food allergens most associated in adults are peanuts and tree nuts, and fish and shellfish.

All food allergies have one thing in common: They are potentially serious. You should always take food allergies, and the people who live with them, seriously. To learn more about allergies, diagnosing and treatment of them, visit our website for additional information or give us a call today to set up an appointment.