This information is about food allergies. It covers the symptoms of food allergies, the foods and chemicals that cause them, and some practical ways to deal with them.
Certain foods cause allergic reactions in some people. The reaction may be an itchy rash, upset stomach, runny nose and sneezing, itchy throat, wheezing or dry, itchy skin or eczema.
Allergic reactions to food vary greatly. They may appear within minutes or be delayed for several hours. They’re affected by how much you ate, the cooking method used, and the number of allergic foods eaten together. These factors affect the type, severity, and duration of allergic symptoms. Sometimes, you don’t have to actually eat the food. For example, steam from cooking food can cause a reaction if you are extremely allergic to that food.
Allergic reactions can be caused by many different foods. Some of the common ones include eggs, milk, soy, nuts, fish and shellfish, cereals, wheat, beans, berries and fresh fruits. Some people are allergic to whole families of related foods, such as peanuts, peas, beans, soy and licorice.
Allergic reactions are rarely caused by food additives. Some dyes, preservatives, and other additives in colored beverages, foods, and mouthwashes can cause skin rashes or wheezing.
Sulfites, which are used to retard discoloration and spoilage can also cause allergic reactions, especially in people with asthma. If you have this allergy, be extremely careful with anything containing small amounts of sulfites-and try to avoid them completely. Sulfites are often found in wine, restaurant salads, shellfish, dried fruits and vegetables, canned mushrooms, pickles and sauerkraut, vinegar, preserved cheeses, and other preserved foods. Sulfites may be included on package labels, so be sure to check them carefully.
How to deal with food allergies…
First, find out what causes the reaction. Keep a diary of everything you ate and notice the foods you wrote down up to three hours before the reaction. If that doesn’t work, stop eating the foods you suspect until you no longer suffer the reaction. Then, reintroduce those foods one at a time until a reaction uncovers the cause of your allergy.
Once you’ve identified the guilty food, simply avoid eating it. If that’s not practical, or if you’ve eaten by mistake, you may relieve your symptoms by taking a non-prescription antihistamine such as Chlor-trimeton or Benadryl.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to see your doctor. A stronger medication may be prescribed–or you may be referred to an Allergist for evaluation. If you’re referred to an Allergist, skin tests will likely be done to identify your allergy.
Please remember these key points:
- Allergic reactions to food vary in type, severity, and time of appearance. Both foods and food additives can produce allergic reactions.
- Isolate the food or foods that cause the reaction, and then avoid the foods.
- Non-prescription antihistamines can help control mild reactions. If such medications don’t relieve your reactions, contact your doctor for advice.