If you are lucky enough to be an adult with no known food allergies, you may have think that you dodged the allergy experience altogether. According to recent studies published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, however, more than half of all food allergies show up in adults. Quite often, reactions show up at mealtime, leaving unfortunate participants unsure of how to proceed, especially if they do not pay attention to the foods they are ingesting.
What is an allergy?
An allergic reaction is your body’s immune system response to something it perceives as a foreign invader. The immune system’s job is to destroy anything that it sees as a threat to homeostasis, and both new foods and favorites that you have eaten for years can suddenly become enemy substances that cause uncomfortable symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening.
A growing list of foods can cause food allergies–according to the Cleveland Clinic, the list is currently at 160 known foods and growing. The most common food triggers for allergic response include:
- artificial sweeteners and spices
Interestingly enough, men are more likely to suffer from food allergies than women, but no one is completely immune to the potential development of an allergic response.
How do they manifest?
Food allergies are quite unpredictable; they can manifest as a rash on the skin, cause trouble breathing, and result in uncomfortable swelling in the face, lips, and throat. Allergic reactions can manifest in different ways at different times, so one episode where you develop a rash from eating tree nuts may result in a second episode of respiratory distress. This is why it is important to know the signs and symptoms of food allergies, and know what to do to protect yourself from a health crisis.
Symptoms you cannot ignore
Whether you have a known food allergy or not, there are some symptoms that you need to be aware of to proactively guard your health. The consequences of some food allergies are quite severe, and can be fatal if they are not addressed promptly. Look for these indications that you may have developed a food allergy:
1. Your skin breaks out
If you notice shortly after eating that your skin becomes hot, red, itchy, or irritated, particularly around your mouth, you may be experiencing a reaction to something on your plate. A skin reaction can be an indicator of more serious inflammation going on inside your body, so if you see signs present on your skin, see a doctor as soon as possible to determine the cause of skin rash.
2. Your mouth and throat start to revolt
Your throat is a common site where food allergies can manifest; they can result in swelling, irritation, and dry coughing which can worsen over time. This type of reaction is most common after ingesting fruits and vegetables, which have proteins similar to pollens.
3. Tightness in the chest
If you feel the sensation of tightness or pain in your chest after eating, you may be experiencing a condition called eosinophilic esophagitis. This is where large quantities of white blood cells get sent to the esophagus, causing irritation and inflammation. You may experience a feeling of swelling and tightness in your throat, as well as a feeling as if something is stuck in your windpipe. This condition can progress from mildly irritating to very serious in a short time; it is important that you seek medical attention immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
4. Digestive system revolt
Your digestive system is a delicate balance of good and bad gut bacteria; all are necessary for proper digestion and elimination of toxins and food waste. If any of this is upset by something that you eat or drink, you’ll know pretty quickly. A histamine response produced by a certain food will manifest as constipation, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and a general feeling of malaise for as long as it takes the food to exit your system. Call your doctor if you feel that symptoms are worsening, or if you begin to have trouble breathing.
5. Vomiting or coughing up blood
One way that your body naturally responds to a food allergy is by vomiting, or trying to get the offending substance out of your body as quickly as possible. If you find that your stomach or throat are burning, or if you cannot keep anything down for a period of 12 hours or longer, call your doctor to see how you should proceed with managing your symptoms.
Wondering if you have allergies? Call us!
If you suspect that you have developed a food allergy, it is important that you receive proper diagnosis so that you can treat and prevent future reactions. Our expert allergists in Princeton and Robbinsville can accurately test, treat, and monitor you for any allergies and provide helpful advice on how to best treat and manage your conditions. If you are tired of wondering where your troublesome symptoms are coming from, contact us today to schedule an appointment and experience relief from food allergies.