Hollywood has led us to believe that food allergies are always dramatic. That isn’t necessarily true. Sometimes food allergies present with severe reactions and can be fatal – and other times can go undiagnosed for years but leave the sufferer living a miserable life.
Food allergies and intolerances are two different things, but they can often present similar symptoms. Have you ever felt gross after eating something, but you can’t quite manage to put your finger on it because it doesn’t always happen? That could be as a result of food intolerance, and not a food allergy. Food intolerances are less severe and do not involve your immune system.
Food allergies have a typical way of presenting themselves – these seven signs below indicate that you may have one.
Consult your doctor or nutritionist if you think you do.
1. Skin Reactions
Food allergies can be tricky to detect, but one of the most common symptoms caused is a skin reaction. Hives and itchy rashes are two of the clearest signs that you’re allergic to something you ate.
The best way to find out what food you’re allergic to is to start an elimination diet. These diets involve cutting out the most common foods that people are allergic to, such as dairy, wheat, and shellfish – and then slowly reintroducing them to your diet over time.
That way, when something does cause a rash, or you suddenly come up in hives, you’ll have a better idea of what food triggered that reaction.
2. Throat Swelling
Throat swelling can be one of the most harrowing experiences to have. One day you’re happily munching away on your lunch, and the next thing your throat starts to close up, and you cannot breathe! That is a terrifying experience, and unfortunately, it is also one of the most common reactions to have if you suffer from food allergies.
That worrying symptom is caused by a reaction triggered by your immune system. It usually happens in response to specific proteins found in foods like fruits and nuts. Peanut allergy sufferers will be all too familiar with this reaction.
3. Itchy Mouth
Much like throat swelling, some people experience itchiness in their mouth and throat after eating certain foods. This reaction is known as oral allergy syndrome and it is caused by allergy antibodies mistaking proteins for pollen.
Those antibodies then trigger an allergic reaction that can only be stopped with antihistamine medications. Sometimes allergies can trigger other itchy conditions, like dandruff and dry scalp.
4. Shortness of Breath
Experiencing slight shortness of breath when eating can be quite common for food allergy sufferers. If this happens to you when you’re eating and it starts to get worse, seek immediate medical attention. Difficulty breathing can be a sign of anaphylaxis, which is a severe allergic reaction.
Anaphylaxis can occur within minutes after eating something you’re allergic to, and it can be fatal if left untreated. If your food allergy is severe enough to cause this, you need to consider getting tested for food allergies. That can be done using an easy-to-use saliva collection kit.
5. Coughing & Wheezing
Symptoms of an allergic reaction to food can mimic asthma symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. The most common foods associated with these symptoms include:
- Cow’s Milk
- Tree Nuts
Food allergies typically cause an allergic response within two hours of eating.
6. Difficulty Swallowing
Some food allergies cause an allergic inflammation of the esophagus that makes swallowing harder. That food allergy reaction commonly affects only adolescents and adults and can result in them feeling like their food is moving too slowly through their esophagus. In some cases, the food can get stuck and may require removal.
7. Gastrointestinal Disturbances
Gastrointestinal food allergies typically present during early childhood and can have a wide range of symptoms. The most common culprits for causing this type of food allergy include cow’s milk, wheat, and soy.
Severe clinical syndromes have been documented from this food allergy, including food protein-induced enteropathy – this condition is uncommon but it can result in malabsorption, like with celiac disease.
Food allergies are caused by an immune system reaction that occurs after eating trigger foods. Even just the smallest amount of these foods can trigger a response that is severe enough to require treatment.
Food allergies affect almost 10% of all children under the age of 5, and almost 7% of the global adult population. Most food allergies can be self-managed and won’t result in a shorter lifespan – provided you look after yourself and avoid your trigger foods as much as