Most food allergies begin before birth. Chances are, if you have an allergy to a particular food, you got it from one or both of your parents. According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), two percent of American adults and two to eight percent of children have true food allergies. That number, however, is on the rise.
Don’t confuse intolerance with an allergy. Many people with food intolerance mistakenly think they are allergic, when if fact, they are not. A true allergy often causes a severe reaction that results in constricted breathing, rashes, and a host of other problems. An intolerance to a certain food means your body does not handle it well, but it is never a life-threatening event.
People who find out they have an allergy to a specific food should consider they are allergic to other related foods as well, and should avoid those foods. When you are told you are allergic to peanuts, for example, you should find out what other foods you should avoid.
Most food allergies show up in childhood, though this isn’t always the case. Some foods are not sampled in childhood, so the allergy would remain unknown. Adults can develop allergies when trying a food they have never eaten before.
If you should suddenly have a severe reaction directly after taking a bite of something or finishing a meal, it is important to narrow down what may have caused the reaction so you can avoid the food in the future.
Here are the most common foods that cause allergic reactions in both adults and children.
Peanuts are, by far, the most common food allergy. Many places will not allow peanuts (elementary schools, for example) or must display signs that warn when there may be peanuts included in their products, or even if their products are prepared where they may come into contact with peanuts.
Food prepared in an establishment with peanuts, such as an ice cream shop, must be especially careful in this regard. Accidentally using a spoon that has touched peanuts to add a different topping is enough to give someone with a peanut allergy a severe reaction. If you have an allergy to peanuts, you are better off preparing your sundae at home.
You should know that nuts such as walnuts, cashews, hazel nuts, and almonds can also trigger allergic reactions. They are not as common as peanut allergies, but these nuts can be dangerous as well.
Some people are allergic to eggs, and will know it very early in life. An allergy to eggs is mostly related to the egg whites but yolks should be avoided as well.
Common seafood allergies usually come from shellfish like crab, lobster and shrimp. Not all seafood allergies come from shellfish; a person can have an allergy to almost any type of fish.
Like eggs, allergies to milk are found at an early age. Most children are introduced to milk before any other food. Many confuse lactose intolerance with an allergy. Those with intolerance will have an upset stomach, some bloating, and possibly diarrhea, but this is not considered a true allergic reaction.
Some people are allergic to the proteins in wheat. This is a hard one to have because so many products contain wheat. If you are allergic to wheat, you are most likely going to have a reaction from related grains as well.
Do not confuse intolerance to gluten as an allergy. This is called celiac disease and is not a true allergy, but rather a nuisance that may cause you to alter your diet to avoid the symptoms.
If you have one of these allergies, you probably already know it. Keep in mind; however, trying a new food may trigger a reaction you had no idea you would have.
When you experience a reaction after eating any of the above-mentioned foods, mention the food as soon as you get to the emergency room. This list is only a guide and you need a doctor to diagnose your allergy properly.