Learn the signs of food allergies

May 24, 2022

Summertime is just around the corner. Before your kids are running back and forth between houses, make sure they know how to speak up about any food allergies they might have.

What is a food allergy?

When you have a food allergy, your body thinks certain foods are trying to harm you. Your body fights back by setting off an allergic reaction. In most cases, the symptoms are mild—a rash or an upset stomach. A mild reaction is no fun, but it isn’t dangerous. A severe reaction can be deadly. But quick treatment can stop a dangerous reaction.

Food allergies are more common in children than in adults. Children sometimes outgrow their food allergies, especially milk, egg, or soy allergies. But if you develop a food allergy as an adult, you will most likely have it for life.

What are the symptoms?

Food allergies can cause many different symptoms. They can range from mild to severe. If you eat a food you are allergic to:

  • Your mouth may tingle, and your lips may swell as you start to eat the food.
  • You may have a stuffy nose, wheeze, or be short of breath when the allergens reach your mouth and lungs.
  • You may have cramps, an upset stomach, or diarrhea as the food is digested.
  • You may feel dizzy or lightheaded if your blood pressure drops as the allergens circulate through your bloodstream.
  • You may have itchy skin with red, raised bumps called hives as the allergens reach your skin.

Kids usually have the same symptoms as adults. But sometimes a small child cries a lot, vomits, has diarrhea, or does not grow as expected. If your child has these symptoms, see your doctor.

What foods most often cause a food allergy?

A few foods cause most allergies. The protein in a food that causes an allergy is called a food allergen.

  • Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy cause the most problems in children.
  • Milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish cause most problems in adults.

How is a food allergy diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask questions about your medical history and any family food allergies. And he or she will do a physical exam. Your doctor will also ask what symptoms you have. He or she may want you to write down everything you eat and any reactions you have. Because food allergies can be confused with other problems, it is important for your doctor to do a test to confirm that you have a food allergy.

Think you or a family member might have a food allergy? Please make an appointment with a Wayne Health primary care provider on our appointments page.

Learn the signs of food allergies
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