A food allergy is an immune system reaction that occurs when a person eats a specific food. Even a tiny amount will trigger a response. For some people the response is so mild they may not realize it’s a food allergy. For others, the response can be so severe their life is threatened if immediate action is not taken.
Children and Adults Affected
Food allergies affect six to eight percent of children under the age of five. They affect about three to four percent of adults. Obviously some allergies go away with time and maturity. Food allergies also get confused with food intolerance which is much more common. Food intolerance is less serious and does not involve an immune system reaction.
Symptoms To Look For
Symptoms will develop a few minutes after eating the trigger food and up to two hours after. They can happen on the first exposure to the food or later exposures. The most common symptoms include:
- Tingling or itching in the mouth
- Hives, itching or eczema
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat, or other parts of the body
- Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
Anaphylaxis takes an allergic response to a whole other level. In some people this severe allergic reaction happens and causes life-threatening symptoms which include:
- Constriction and tightening of airways
- Swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in the throat making it difficult to swallow or breathe
- Shock, a severe drop in blood pressure
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
Emergency treatment is absolutely critical. Without immediate medical attention coma or death may occur. People who are aware of their severe allergies often carry Epipen to treat such a reaction.