Millions of people have allergies, some that stay with them throughout the year and others that are seasonal. These allergies are typically environmental and can be blamed on pollen, grass, dust mites and a host of other factors. These allergies are easily identifiable by sneezing, congestion, itchy, watery eyes and occasionally itching skin. However, would you know exactly what to look for in a food allergy? It is not necessarily cut and dried.
What is interesting is that some food allergy symptoms can be duplicated through a variety of other means. For this reason, it is important to be in tune with your body and be able to identify rapid or gradual onset of symptoms and their possible relationship with what you eat. Remember these symptoms and signs that may signal a food allergy:
1. Upset stomach – Dairy is a common culprit in food allergies. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and nausea. Sometimes, it is a matter of food intolerance, like lactose intolerance, rather than a food allergy. Only with proper allergy testing and a doctor’s diagnosis will you know for sure. People with gluten intolerances may also experience similar symptoms.
2. Redness, puffiness and tingling – Some foods may cause an almost immediate reaction while others gradually manifest themselves. Redness, puffiness and tingling can occur as the result of a food allergy almost immediately after consumption. They may occur around and inside the mouth such as the lips, gums and tongue. Shellfish and egg products are two common culprits that can cause this type of reaction.
3. Runny Nose – While also a symptom of seasonal allergies such as rhinitis or hay fever, this can also happen with exposure to mold and high amounts of pollen too. In regards to food allergy issues, dairy and eggs can cause the same problem. Only through allergy scratch tests in a doctor’s office would be able to differentiate between the food and environmental factors. Of course, if you have this type of reaction in winter when mold and pollen counts are low, you can better pinpoint food as the culprit.
4. Rashes and hives – Food allergies are not the only things that can cause rashes and hives. Certain medications and environmental factors can also contribute too. Rashes are easy to identify and hives also resemble rashes only they are raised and can look like welts and itch. It is important to track your movements in the events leading up to rashes and hives to try and pinpoint what the cause was.
5. Anaphylactic shock – Of all food allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock is the most serious because if left unchecked and untreated, it can be fatal. Luckily, anaphylaxis is not commonplace; however, those people with the severest of allergies can experience it at least a few times in their life. You would recognize these symptoms if they happened to you. The entire body reacts by exhibiting a drop in blood pressure and simultaneously the respiratory passageways swell, inhibiting breathing. Epinephrine is the best and quickest solution to combat anaphylactic shock. Most people with severe, life threatening allergies carry an injectible pen called an EpiPen in case of an emergency.